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

* Stuart Jacobsen on PROMED … 6 unanswered questions regarding the anthrax attacks

Posted by DXer on March 25, 2010


The New York Times says the FBI’s anthrax case has “too many loose ends.” Find out where some of those looses ends might have originated in my novel CASE CLOSED. Sure it’s fiction, but many readers, including a highly respected member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, think my premise is actually “quite plausible.”

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Posted on PROMED by Stuart Jacobsen …

Subject: 6 unanswered questions


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

(1) The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) published a Newsletter in October 2002 in which they stated: “Fort Detrick sought our assistance to determine the specific components of the anthrax found in the Daschle letter,” said Florabel G. Mullick, MD, ScD, SES, AFIP Principal Deputy Director and department chair.  AFIP experts utilized an energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer (an instrument used to detect the presence of otherwise-unseen chemicals through characteristic wavelengths of X-ray light) to confirm the previously unidentifiable substance as silica. “This was a key component,” Mullick said. “Silica prevents the anthrax from aggregating, making it easier to aerosolize.” <>

In their Newsletter AFIP also included an EDX spectrum of a reference sample of silica titled “Silicon Dioxide (Silica), as it appears
through energy dispersive X-ray analysis”


1.1: What was in the AFIP EDX data that allowed them to conclude that silica was a deliberate additive?

1.2: The complete set of EDX spectra and scanning electron microscope pictures for all of the attack powder samples measured by AFIP need to be published in order for independent experts in EDX spectroscopy to assess the validity of AFIP’s conclusion that silica was a deliberate additive.


(2) In April 2002 information that an “unusual chemical” had been found coating the attack powders was provided by senior government officials to Newsweek, CNN and the Washington Post. Later on it was revealed by the FBI that this “unusual chemical” was “polymerized glass.”

Source: Newsweek, 8 Apr 2002.
A Sophisticated Strain of Anthrax
By: Mark Hosenball, John Barry and Daniel Klaidman

“Government sources tell Newsweek that the secret new analysis shows anthrax found in a letter addressed to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy was ground to a microscopic fineness not achieved by U.S. biological-weapons experts. The Leahy anthrax — mailed in an envelope that was recovered unopened from a Washington post office last November [2001] — also was coated with a chemical compound unknown to experts who have worked in the field for years; the coating matches no known anthrax samples ever recovered from biological-weapons producers anywhere in the world, including Iraq and the former Soviet Union. The combination of the intense milling of the bacteria and the unusual coating produced an anthrax powder so fine and fluffy that individually coated anthrax spores were found in the Leahy envelope, something that U.S. bioweapons experts had never seen.”
Source: Washington Post, 9 Apr 2002.
Powder Used in Anthrax Attacks ‘Was Not Routine’

By: Joby Warrick, Washington Post Staff Writer

“Whoever concocted the wispy white powder used in last fall’s [2001] anthrax attacks followed a recipe markedly different from the ones commonly used by scientists in the United States or any other country known to have biological weapons, law enforcement sources said yesterday.

“Extensive lab tests of the anthrax powder have revealed new details about how the powder was made, including the identity of a chemical used to coat the trillions of microscopic spores to keep them from clumping together. Sources close to the investigation declined to name the chemical but said its presence was something of a surprise.

“The powder’s formulation ‘was not routine,’ said one law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. ‘Somebody had to have special knowledge and experience to do this,’ the official said.”

Source: CNN, 11 Apr 2002.

Official: Unusual coating in anthrax mailings
By: Kelli Arena, CNN Washington Bureau

“Scientists have found a new chemical in the coating on the anthrax spores mailed to journalists and politicians last fall, a
high-ranking government official said Wednesday.

“The discovery of the unnamed chemical, something scientists are familiar with, was surprising, the official said.

“Previously, officials had reported that the coating on the anthrax included silica, which helped the spores not to clump.”


“Apparently, the spores were coated with a polyglass which tightly bound hydrophilic silica to each particle. That’s what was briefed (according to one of my former weapons inspectors at the United Nations Special Commission) by the FBI to the German Foreign Ministry at the time.”


2.1: What laboratory results were performed in order for the FBI to conclude that “polymerized glass” was individually coating the spores?

2.2: The complete set of laboratory data, including any and all spectroscopic results, that led to this conclusion needs to be published in order for independent experts in the chemistry of silanes, siloxanes and polysiloxanes to assess the conclusion that polymerized glass was present as a spore coating.


(3) Quantitative elemental silicon analysis results released by the FBI: FBI lab director Dr Hassell made the following statement to the
National Academy of Science in July of 2009:

“There has been a great deal written regarding the presence of silicon in the samples and the location of that silicon. The FBI
Laboratory used Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES) to quantify silicon, as well as other
elements, in the Leahy letter spore powder. The results indicated the Leahy spores contained 1.45 percent by weight. The New York Post letter spore powder was qualitatively analyzed using ICP-OES and was found to have Silicon present in the sample. However, the limited quantity of recovered material precluded a reliable numerical measurement of any elements present within this powder. Insufficient quantities ofboth the Daschle and Brokaw letters spore powders precluded the analysis of these samples using this elemental analysis technique.”


3.1: What is the minimum amount of sample needed to perform accurate quantitative elemental analysis on spore samples?

3.2: All of the FBI’s ICP-OES data for all of the spore powders they measured needs to be released and published for independent verification by experts in analytical chemistry.


(4) Role of Pacific Northwest National Labs in the Amerithrax investigation: In his slide presentation to NAS in July 2008, FBI lab director Dr Hassell acknowledged the involvement of Pacific Northwest National Labs. This can be seen in slide 14 here:


4.1: What role did Pacific Northwest National Labs serve in the Amerithrax investigation?


Pacific Northwest Labs demonstrated in 2005 that accurate quantitative Elemental Analysis can be performed on bacillus spores with samples as small as one nanogram. The Pacific Northwest paper on this technique can be seen here: Differentiation of Spores of Bacillus subtilis Grown in Different Media by Elemental Characterization Using Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry, John B. Cliff, Kristin H. Jarman, Nancy B. Valentine, Steven L. Golledge, Daniel J. Gaspar, David S. Wunschel, and Karen L. Wahl, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, November 2005, p. 6524-6530, Vol. 71, No. 11



4.2: Did Pacific Northwest National Labs determine the elemental quantities of silicon and other elements in the attack powders? What was the quantity of silicon they determined for each powder?


(5) Amount of spores needed for all of the attack letters: The single flask of RMR-1029 consisted at its origination date of 30g of Ames anthrax spores in a slurry of 1 liter of water. The resources needed to make this 30g of spores consisted of a combination of 12 x 10 liter fermentor runs at Dugway Proving Ground and 22 flask culture lots made at USAMRIID. Dr Bruce Ivins had calculated that to make 30g of spores at USAMRIID it would take approximately one year of work, which is why USAMRIID contracted the large fermentor runs at Dugway in order to fulfill their need for spores for animal vaccine challenge studies.


5.1: What calculations did the FBI labs perform that allowed them to conclude that the total quantity of spores needed for all the mailed letters could be made by a single person over a few evenings?


(6) Dugway researchers publish in 2008 that the Daschle spores were “fluidized.” In March 2008 authors from Dugway Proving Ground and the CDC published a paper titled: Development of an Aerosol System for Uniformly Depositing Bacillus anthracis Spore Particles on Surfaces. Paul A. Baron1, Cherie F. Estill1, Gregory J. Deye1, Misty J. Hein1, Jeremy K. Beard2, Lloyd D. Larsen2, and Gregory E. Dahlstrom2, 1_Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA 2_Dugway Proving Ground, Dugway, Utah, USA


In this paper, which was concerned with manufacturing a powder that would display similar aerosol and dispersability behavior to the Daschle powder, the authors make the following statement: “In the anthrax attack of 2001, some of the material was believed to be in a “fluidized” form (defined here as having fumed silica added).”


6.1: Were the authors from Dugway Proving Ground privy to the nature of the powder used in the attacks? What led the authors to conclude that the spores used in the attacks were “fluidized?”


posted by Stuart Jacobsen PhD, Analytical Chemist,F2400_P1001_PUB_MAIL_ID:1010,81897


101 Responses to “* Stuart Jacobsen on PROMED … 6 unanswered questions regarding the anthrax attacks”

  1. DXer said

    Stuart’s daughter recently found her father dead, slumped over in front of his computer. The people at the FBI responsible for withholding and delaying production of documents are on notice that the people who so valued Stuart’s friendship will continue to press to overcome the withholding and delay, filing litigation as necessary. His legacy will be the legacy of this blog: to work to get people on the same page so that we can follow the evidence wherever it leads.

  2. DXer said

    The 1993 report by the Office of Technological Assessment “Technologies Underlying Weapons of Mass Destruction” states:

    “The stability of a microbial aerosol can be increased by adding a variety of compounds to the spray material. Moreover, antiagglomerants such as colloidal silica help prevent the clumping of free-dried microbial agents and toxins that have been milled into a fine powder. Agricultural research on biological pesticides, such as the insect-killing bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, has provided much information on methods for stabilizing bacterial agents in the field. For example, new formulations of B. thuringiensis have been developed that extend the life of the disseminated bacteria by means of ultraviolet protestants and other additives that ensure compatibility with existing agricultural sprayers.

    [citing “Viability and Infectivity of Microorganisms in Experimental Airborne Infection,” Bacteriological Reviews, vol 25. 1961, p. 185.]


    Another approach to stabilization, known as microencapsulation, emulates natural spore formation by coating droplets of pathogens or particles of toxin with a thin coat of gelatin, sodium alginate, cellulose, or some other protective material. (An industrial example of microencapsulation is the production of carbonless carbon paper, in which ink droplets are coated in this manner. Microencapsulation can be performed with physical or chemical methods. (citation omitted)

    Microencapsulation production methods can be set up to generate particles of a selected size range (e.g., 5 to 10 microns). The polymer coating protects the infectious agent against environmental stresses such as desiccation, sunlight, freezing, and the mechanical stresses of dissemination, and permits cold-storage of microbial pathogens for several months.” Microcapsules can be charged electrostatically to reduce particle clumping during dissemination, or ultraviolet blocking pigments can be added to the microcapsule to protect microorganisms against degradation by sunlight. Once in the target environment, such as the interior of the lung, the polymer coating dissolves, releasing the agent. Microencapsulation can also be applied to toxins, making them more stable, predictable, and safer to handle.”

    Kathryn Crockett, Ken Alibek’s assistant — just a couple doors down from Ali Al-Timimi — addressed this issue of microencapsulation in her 2006 thesis, “A historical analysis of Bacillus anthracis as a biological weapon and its application to the development of nonproliferation and defense strategies.” She expressed her special thanks to bioweaponeering experts Dr. Ken Alibek and Dr. Bill Patrick. (Dr. Patrick also reviewed the 1993 OTS report). Dr. Patrick consulted with the FBI in Amerithrax. Dr. Crockett successfully defended the thesis before a panel that included USAMRIID head and Ames strain researcher Charles Bailey, Ali Al-Timimi’s other Department colleague. In 2001 he said he did not want to discuss silica because he did not want to give terrorists any ideas. Oops! Too late. The scientist coordinating with the 911 imam and Bin Laden’s Sheik was in the same suite, just a few feet away.

    Dr. Crockett in her PhD thesis says that scientists who analyzed the powder through viewing micrographs or actual contact are divided over the quality of the powder. She cites Gary Matsumoto’s “Science” article in summarizing the debate. She says the FBI has vacillated on silica. The AFIP data, if released, would point to the high level of silica in the first batch of letters. The FBI’s science investigation is being led by Jason Bannan, the former collections scientist at the Bacteriology Division at the American Type Culture Collection which, located at GMU, co-sponsored Al-Timimi’s program and later successfully bid on the Critical Reagent Program handling virulent Ames for government researchers.

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

    The former State Department analyst, Ken Dillon, PhD, notes:

    “Interested readers should study the contributions of Barbara Hatch Rosenberg (Sept. 9) and Serguei Popov (Sept. 24) at I find quite intriguing Rosenberg’s reference in footnotes 21 and 22 of her analysis to U.S. Patent Application number 09/805,464 by Charles Bailey and Ken Alibek, March 14, 2001. The patent (#6,649,408) was issued on Nov. 18, 2003. Silica is mentioned repeatedly in the patent, and the instructions look very much like they could have been used by the preparer of the anthrax in the letters. Rosenberg suggests that the patent application was available to 100+ potential anthrax attack suspects well before the anthrax attacks, but it is not clear that the application was made public before the attacks started.” Dr. Popov does not dismiss the possibility but instead refers to it merely as “hypothetical.”

    One military scientist who has made anthrax simulants described the GMU patents to me as relating to a silicon encapsulation technique which serves to increase the viability of a wide range of pathogens. Sandia’s Joe Michael, on the other hand, Dr. Bannan’s consulting expert on the issue, in contrast reports he has no idea what purpose the silicon absorbed in the coat would serve. It is odd that they would turn to someone with no experience or training in the relevant field to provide expert opinion on such an issue. His expertise was limited to identifying the location of the silicon signal. Sandia scientists in their public comments seemed to be making inferences and conclusions about whether the silica would be useful in making mailed anthrax — and whether it would be highly probative — that went beyond both their field of expertise and the data apparently available to them. Their powerpoints seemed solid and conservatively framed in the conclusion drawn — their public comments did not. To the press and oral statements to the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Michael continues waxes broad again in a way that goes beyond his field and beyond his data.

    I find Peter Setlow’s commentary on the recent Japanese article about silicon encapsulation to be thoughtful and would have preferred that he address the issue before the NAS.

    I respect the government view, if it is the government’s view, that these are not issues that should be discussed public necessarily. To my way of thinking, outsiders, in my opinion, need only enough information to know whether “they got the right guy.” Presently, most people think the FBI did not — and the FBI’s interference with USAMRIID’s FOIA production in the past has only served as Exhibit A in that argument. From where I sit, for all I know, it is the FBI’s Dr. Bannan, formerly the collections scientist at the American Type Culture Collection (“ATCC”) at GMU which sponsored Al-Timimi’s program, who is supporting the decision to withhold the AFIP data. Given the government assures us that it does not relate to “weaponization,” then it would seem that there is no reason not to release it. The only previous reasons related to the fact that the investigation was ongoing and it would reveal the test that was done. (But of course the AFIP newsletter disclosed the test that was done and so that is not justification for withholding).

    Once the AFIP data is released, experts like Peter Setlow can consider the source of the reason for the silica such as whether it was putting virulent Ames soil (silica) suspension such as the FBI scientist John Ezzell did in 1996 for DARPA when he made dry powdered anthrax at Ft. Detrick. Or we can turn to the “Microdroplet Cell Culture” patent filed by Ali Al-Timimi’s Discovery Hall colleagues at the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense and see if there is a connection. The international application involves a pharma aerosol application and the co-applicant is the founder of the Aerosol Techniques in 1955, which had a central role in the US offensive program. Under the GMU patent, the silica would be in the culture medium and then would be removed by repeated centrifugation.

    Or we can explore the other hypotheses relating to the reason for the Silicon Signature, such as it being due to rice hull contamination (silicon) in a spraydryer. Or whether it is due to use of a silicone sealant sprayed on the inside of the envelope such as the Al Qaeda chapter on “poisonous letters” instructs be used (to avoid killing the mailman).

    I’m not a scientist which is why it seems that the data and pictures need to be released so that we can have experts like the Center for Biodefense’s Sergeui Popov and the government’s John Kiel review it. If we learned anything from 9/11, it is that there are times that information needs to be shared so that people can connect the dots. This is such a time. Any one with a conflict of interest should recuse himself from the particular aspect of Amerithrax. Anyone without the relevant qualification to address an issue should sit down and have a qualified expert, who has done controlled experiments, address the question. John Kiel is such a scientist. Head of the Air Force lab, his lab did controlled experiments on the issue independent of the FBI and could report to Congress on the issue.

    The suggestion that the Salafist-Jihadis did not have experts equal to any of the cutting-edge scientists working for the United States government seems insupportable. As a single example, consider Magdy Al-Nashar, who studied in North Carolina in 2000 and knew Ali Al-Timimi (whose personal DC charity had a branch in North Carolina). Magdy then studied in London where he held the keys to the apartment used in the 7/7 London bomb, is a cutting-edge expert in functional polymerization, which involves protecting the drug until it reaches the intended organ. Back in Cairo (where he stayed after the bombing), he was represented by Mahmoud Ismail, the attorney who is the alleged conduit between Ayman Zawahiri and jihadis in Egypt. (The spymaster who wrote the treatise on spying which included anthrax was the intermediary). Attorney Ismail represented Cairo Medical school pharmacology professor Heba Zawahiri (and the family) in connection with the rendering of Ayman Zawahiri’s brother in April 1999. The use of anthrax was threatened at the time (by Egyptian Islamic Jihad leaders and Mamdouh Ismail’s colleague, Montasser Al Zayat) in retaliation for the rendering and mistreatment of senior Egyptian leaders. (The torture of prisoners was the last thing the Bush Administration wanted to talk about. The fact that Ali Al-Timimi was Andrew Card’s former assistant and had received a letter of commendation from the White House for classified work for the Navy while at SRA with Battelle consultant Charles Battelle, doomed the Amerithrax investigation from the start).

    AUSA Ken Kohl’s Investigative Summary says that they could rule out all supporters of the Salafist-Jihadis because of a lack of access to the Ames in Flask 1029 is total crock.

    He says the FBI could exclude, for example:

    “A foreign-born scientist with particular expertise working with a Bacillus anthracis simulant known as Bacillus subtilis, and against whom there were allegations that s/he had connections with several individuals affiliated with the al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam terrorist networks.
    A microbiology student who allegedly had associations with al-Qaeda’s anthrax program.
    A foreign-born scientist who published certain microbiology articles that were found at an al-Qaeda training facility in a foreign country”

    The conclusion was based on an investigation that, for example, led by the scientist who was the go-to guy for bacteria at the program that sponsored Ali Al-Timimi’s program. The GMU research involved Delta Ames and experts (and Ivins explained) that the virulence plasmids could just be reinserted.

    The genetics on samples was done by the scientist, Kimothy Smith, thanked for providing Biolevel 3 lab space by the former Zawahiri associate, Tarek Hamouda, who worked alongside Bruce Ivins with virulent Ames and then tested his decontamination agent at Dugway (and also John Hopkins and Edgewood).

    The FBI did not even request the documents relating to the former Zawahiri associate until February 2005! I respectfully submit that there is no evidence Dr. Ivins is guilty. None. Nada. Zilch. The evidence being withheld — such as Dr. Bartick’s report on the toner, is exculpatory and contradicts the false suggestions of the Investigative Summary.

    The investigation was flawed, the investigative summary outrageously mischaracterizes documentary evidence such as emails (see, e.g., early October 2001 Ivins work emails that were withheld until after the issuance of the report due to DOJ interference), and the investigation was rife with conflicts of interest.

    These missteps, disregard of common sense principles of biosecurity and avoidance of conflict of interest, etc. would just be another day at the office except for one thing — too much is at stake to permit it.

  3. DXer said

    In terms of mastering the record, note that has the full text of the FBI documents in google searchable form. (Hat tip to RHE).

    Google searches of the form “fermentor” and “fermenter” yield the following fermentor/fermentoe-relevant hits:

    a fermenter for growing labs where Ba work primarily occurred were rooms[ however, …. J to allow the moving of a fermenter too large to fit …

    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat – View as HTML
    IVINS’ Knowledge of the Use of Fermenters to Grow Anthrax … fermenter-grown. IVINS based this judgment on his observation that …

    the fermenter was very messy due to the parts and supplies required for operation. … in the fermenter, but speculated that recombinant BA preps made …

    five liter capacity fermenter can now produce approximately five grams of protective antigen per liter. (U) EC. Serial 109) re …

    one fermentor as having been in … Additional fermentors of interest have been identified …

    physical location for this fermentor but was sure it was not located in … logic behind purchasing the fermentor. IVINS also relayed to that he recalled …

    was a fermentor in Suite B4 used for protective antigen (PA) and lethalb6 factor studies. The fermentor was in a laboratory considered to be k>7c …

    There has never been a fermentor Building 1412 and … too dangerous to have grown Ba Ames in a fermentor. was m. Building| | while was at USAMRIID. …

    spores to inoculate a fermentor. IVINS continued to review the … germinating medium used when inoculating a fermentor. IVINS …

    Copies of hand receipts showing IVINS had a New. Brunswick, BioFlo III fermentor and a lyophilizer issued to him. ,iMS. Page 2. Page 3 …

    originally obtained these fermentors around 1980-1985. [. The 100-liter fermentorslT … |”Big Bertha” is the 100-liter fermentor identified as stock …

    • Anonymous said

      Pge 16 of this document:

      Click to access ivins_investigation_16.PDF

      points out that in order to leave the hot suite one would have to disrobe and take a shower. Therefore one would have to hide any spores inside a body orifice (does that include letters to the media and the senate full of spores)?

      Also there were cameras everywhere recording every movement.

      But, hey, Ivins must have managed all this – somehow.

      • DXer said

        There were no cameras at the time. Dr. Ivins noted some years later that he was glad for the addition of the cameras.

        Yes, as for how it would be done, interviewees all agree it would be a very simple matter — and none involved an orifice. Some laid out alternative scenarios – but an example of how easy it would be: after an aerosol challenge the leftovers were left in garbage bags in the basement for a day or more until being autoclaved. Besides, there is no need to steal from the hot suite. It can just be stolen from the unlocked refrigerator.
        Dr. Ivins even left virulent Ames on his desk overnight before it shipped out the next morning. People keep incorrectly using the 100 had access figure — when the DOJ says it was 377. The 100 was a mistake Jeff Taylor made when he was mistakenly saying it was always in 1425. Ivins would be the last person to use the strain for which he was the “go-to” guy.

        As Dr. Alibek explained, only a single spore needed to be stolen.

        • DXer said

          Ed just got fixed on Ivins because he didn’t understand what BugMaster and everyone else was explaining to him about the genetics. He thought that the genetics limited things to Ivins rather than to hundreds of people.

  4. DXer said

    On November 8 2001, Dr. Ivins wrote:

    “Hi, __________,

    I’m extraordinarily busy at the moment, but wanted to drop you a line to tell you how dismayed I was yesterday to receive a phone call from a television station in Dallas. They wanted to interview me about the “U.S. Army tested and approved anthrax spore-killing liquid, 911 Relief.” I will send you the data as soon as I have the time. I can also suggeest that you look into asking Battelle, in Columbus do a small contracted experiment for you. Or perhaps Texas A&M can do a similar experiment with Sterne veterinary vaccine spores. At any rate, associating your product with “U.S. Army testing and approval” is simply not acceptable. I will send you the summary data from the experiment soon.


    Who was he writing in his November 8, 2001 email? What maker of an “anthrax spore-killing liquid” was he writing? When was the experiment — for which he promising to send summary data — conducted?

  5. The hypothesis that weaponized powder was produced by Battelle Dugway and that this powder was mailed by the mailers has acquired substantial support for it.

    Conditional on this hypothesis, there are 3 types of mailers. 1) Foreigners. 2) True Battellers. 3) Whistleblowers.

    Foreigners could be al Qaeda. Someone sympathetic passes powder to al Qaeda that mails it. Al Qaeda or whomever wants the US government to know it has their anthrax powder and can expose this program.

    True Battellers mailed the powder for one of the following reasons, which give rise to subgroups.

    1) Plumbers: Get Patriot Act passed to stop leaks. Rumsfeld Cheney types realize the real lesson of Watergate is better plumbers instituted by law. In essence, make the DOJ/FBI be the plumbers. 2) False flaggers. To invade Iraq. 3) Cold Warriors. They wanted to show Russia we had this anthrax and would risk our own people’s lives to demonstrate it.

    Whistleblowers. These are a group that want to expose this illegal powder program. They decide to mail it with a warning to take anthrax. They may also have sent hoax letters. They sent it to the liberal media and liberal Senators believing that they will then expose the illegal weaponized anthrax powder program.

    The FBI could try to claim (frame?) that Perry Mikesell passed the powder to Ivins who prepared the envelopes. They might need others for mailing hoax letters. Or the FBI could claim Mikesell passed it to someone else. But then the FBI would have to admit to the secret anthrax powder program and that they covered it up. Mikesell went from Detrick to Battelle in Ohio and drank himself to death after FBI attention turned to him in 2002. The whistleblowers didn’t expect to kill anyone because of their warnings in this scenario. They chose big media and the Senate expecting they would get top medical attention quickly and would investigate the powder used on them.

    There is at least some evidence for each hypothesis.

    • Mikesell, of course, might have had nothing to do with this. Or he might have had some other problem he was afraid the FBI would find out about.

      However, he is not restricted to a whistleblower scenario. Another scenario is he was a true Batteller and they didn’t think anyone would die, but would take the penicillin. Or he could have known someone was doing something, or was thinking about it, whistleblower or true Batteller and did nothing to stop it. Then later he felt guilty and drank heavily.

      • DXer said

        We don’t know anything about PM beyond what we read in the NYT article which wasn’t much.

        • Anonymous said

          Yes, the FBI should disclose more of what they found out. A good place for FOIA requests.

          An obituary notice for him is here:

          “A retired U.S. Army major, most of his military career was spent at Fort Detrick, Md., at the United States Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases as a research scientist. In 1983, he was named Army Scientist of the Year for his work on Louis Pasteur’s strain of bacillus anthracis. He was the first to discover and sequence the DNA of the deadly toxins in the bacteria, thus leading to possible viable vaccine in the future.
          After his retirement from the military, he worked at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio, as a research scientist in the National Defense and Security Division.”

        • Anonymous said

          “His name is mentioned many many times in the documents, and it’s clear the FBI was investigating Mikesell as thoroughly as they were investigating Ivins until the evidence began to truly pile up to show that Ivins was the anthrax killer and acted alone.”

          You seem to coveniently not mention that there were another 2 persons at Detrick that the FBI were investigating just as thoroughly as Ivins right up until Ivins’ death.
          It was only when Ivins died that the FBI coveniently decided Ivins did it and acted alone.
          No doubt there is just as much “evidence” against these other 2 persons as there is against Ivins – in other words – next to nothing.

        • Anonymous said

          It was an open-and-shut case, the FBI said.

          But three months after agents pinned the post-9/11 anthrax mailings on Army scientist Bruce Ivins – who committed suicide as the FBI closed in on him – his former colleagues have approached a lawyer to sue the feds for fingering the wrong man, The Post has learned.

          They argue that the FBI abused its power and violated its own policies as they probed an innocent man for six months.

          One of Ivins’ former colleagues was being aggressively pressured to confess to the crimes just two months before Ivins killed himself on July 29, he told The Post. And he identified at least one other employee who was under the same pressure.

        • Anonymous said

          “The people at Fort Detrick would love to see some suit brought, some way of reckoning, adjudicating this,” said Ivins’ Maryland-based lawyer, Paul Kemp. The Pentagon had refused a request to allow Ivins’ colleagues to speak to Kemp.

          Why do you suppose the Pentagon has forbidden anyone else at Detrick to speak with Ivins’ lawyer?
          Are they STILL forbidden to talk with him even after the case has been closed?
          Isn’t there something in this country called the first amendment?

        • DXer said

          Ed Lake,

          The reason Dr. Mikesell’s name, like Dr. Ivins’ name, is not redacted is because they passed away and thus Rachel Carlson Lieber explains, they do not have privacy interests protectable under FOIA.

          But the other poster is correct that therefore it might be a fruitful subject of FOIA requests.

        • BugMaster said


          It would be interesting to know what Mikesell’s role at Battelle was prior to the FBI taking an interest in him.

          BTW: Regarding the Hatfill interview, I believe that it was reported that the FBI discussed their case against Ivins with Dr. Hatfill at some point before Ivin’s suicide to “gauge his reaction”.

          Do you remember anything about that, or have any info in your archives?


        • DXer said

          That never has been reported, BugMaster. Dr. Hatfill is speaking at the National Press Club in May.

        • BugMaster said

          I don’t know, Ed. It didn’t make any sense to me either.

        • Anonymous said

          That was me OA. I had cleared my short term memory and forgot it when posting.

        • BugMaster said

          Why would Mikesell feel he was under so much pressure from the FBI throughout 2002 when it was Stephan J. Hatfill who was, as John Ashcroft put it, “The person of interest” (at least by summer 2002)?

  6. DXer said

    Jdey, btw, was hardly a lone wolf.

    T1A B42 Jdey Fdr- Entire Contents- Withdrawal Notice- 85 Pgs- Miscellaneous 003
    85 pages of material classified and removed

    • DXer said

      Pentbomb briefing – Abderraouf Jdey, June 24, 2004

      Martyrdom video found in Atef’s house was made under instruction of Saif Adel. He was the one who denied that the Vanguards of Conquest were responsible for the Al Hayat letter bombs and then got chastised by Al-Sirri, the VOC spokesman in London, for speaking without authority.

      • DXer said

        Itemization of hijackers’ international calls

        Interesting to see all of Mustafa al-Hawsawi’s calls to Atta. It was Al-Hawsawi who had anthrax spraydrying documents on his laptop.

        Canvas of motels and hotels within walking distance of King Fahad Mosque June 23-24, 2004

        Staffers questioned about Nawaf and Hazmi, but also Jdey. Was Jdey visiting California and arriving in San Diego as the same time as Nawaf and Hazmi — who met with Anwar Aulaqi upon their arrival?

        • DXer said

          Report of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: “Al-Qaeda: The Many Faces of an Islamists Extremist Threat”

          Interrogation of KSM in June 2003 indicates Jdey was part of second wave.

        • DXer said

          I meant Nawaf Al-Hazmi and Almidhar, with whom Jdey attended training camp.

  7. Ike Solem said

    DXer says”Your question assumes a spraydryer was the equipment that was used when, in contrast, the people who have made aerosol anthrax simulant — without exception — say it is merely one alternative.”

    Well, yes you can make low-quality “aerosol simulant” by grinding up crude dried spore material which is heavily contaminated with vegetative cells and culture media residue – take the chunks and grind them in a blender. You will get a powder, and if you stick your face down in it and take a huff, you’d probably get infected.

    Likewise, another way to make an anthrax simulant powder is to take the skin of an animal that died of anthrax and turn it into a drum – beat on the drum, spores go into the air, and people can get infected.

    The real question, DXer, is how you make a powder that dissolves into invisibility when thrown into the air, like “steam coming out of a teapot.” A powder that falls apart into individual spores, effectively contaminating buildings – from Brentwood to the U.S. Senate – with a persistent layer of spores. A powder whose individual spores easily leaked through the pores in envelope paper, stuck to other envelopes, and so killed unrelated postal customers.

    This is what really rules out all the FBI claims about lone wolves and so on – and really rules out any suspects other than those tied to the biological threat assessment program, now called NBACC, the National Bioforensic Analysis Center (NBFAC), Battelle National Biodefense Institute (BNDI), National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) – all peas in a pod.

    What hasn’t been addressed anywhere yet is that the samples that Micheal looked at at Sandia were all prepared, apparently, by Battelle contractors! The same firm that was responsible for making the bioweapons in the first place, under contract to the DIA and the CIA! Amazing, isn’t it – and they’d doctored samples before, for example autoclaving and essentially destroying the Daschle spore powders that the FBI sent then on Oct 16-18 or so.

    By the way, DXer, how do you explain the phrase “ALLAH IS GREAT” in the anthrax letters, which is something a genuine Islam-inspired terrorist would never do?

    There is a treaty making it illegal to manufacture and stockpile biological weapons, you know – would you at least agree that the CIA, the DIA and Battelle were jointing in violation of that treaty? Sure, much of this was initiated in the 1990s by Clinton – but look what it turned into – a source of bioterrorist attacks on the people of the U.S. It was a terrorist attack intended to induce fear and alter behavior – namely, whipping up support for an Iraq invasion and for expanded biowarfare research.

    In terrorism, it’s not just the immediate victims of the attacks who are affected, is it?

    • DXer said

      Ike asks me to address the language in the letters.

      From the streets of Cairo to Tehran to Jakarta, on historic anniversaries (such as Jerusalem Day in Iran, the day the Israeli state was created) protesters have gathered on the streets and shouted “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” For the talking heads to profile it as a non-Islamist awkwardly trying to sound muslim is odd. It is in fact the common protest slogan. That was where Saif Adel — who instructed Jdey on his martyrdom video — had spent years along with other EIJ leaders. Ike’s suggestion that “Death to America!” etc. is not language a Vanguards of Conquest member would use is mistaken.

      Among the piles of papers of documents relating to anthrax in a house associated with a Pakistan charity was a drawing of a jet shooting down a balloon. (There were 10 copies each as if a seminar or brainstorming session was being conducted). The words “YOU ARE DEAD, BANG.” Thus, although some pundits argued that “YOU DIE NOW” in the anthrax letters does not sound like a militant islamist, the physical evidence relating to Al Qaeda’s anthrax planning suggests otherwise. Indeed, “WE HAVE THIS ANTHRAX” was starkly threatening, just like Atta’s “We have some planes” to the passengers of AA Flight 11 over the intercom.

      What surer way to avoid giving away clues than to use common short phrases or short sentences using common words. Egyptians such as Islamic Group leader and soft-spoken accountant, Taha — and Egyptian Islamic Jihad #2 Shehata and Shawqi Islambuli, brother of Sadat’s assassin — may very well have watched these protesters shouting these very chants while living in Iran after 9/11.

      Just before the 1998 embassy bombings, Zawahiri and his Vanguards of Conquest had said that the rendering of the senior EIJ leaders would be answered in “language you can understand.” Before the military tribunal, in March 2007, KSM talked of the language of war — deaths. “Same language you use, I use. That is why the language of any war in the world is killing.” Here, the lethal letters were plainly worded.

      The letter postmarked September 18, 2001 read:


      The letter postmarked October 9, 2001 read:

      YOU DIE NOW.

      Now I’ve uploaded documents showing an operative writing Zawahiri saying that he had learned some tricks of processing from attendees at the Porton Down conference attended by the cutting-edge biodefense experts, a scientist coordinating with the 911 imam was spitting distance from the top DARPA-funded biothreat Ames-researching assessment people in the country, and a former Zawahiri associate showering with Bruce Ivins.

      So I would ask Ike that you be equally responsive. You say that the government’s conclusion that the silica may have been in culture medium is ridiculous. Yet when I asked you what expert you were relying on I did not get an answer. (I am suggesting that any expert you name now agrees with that conclusion.) So, by all means, name the expert(s) you rely upon and then we can see what that expert thinks on the question.

  8. DXer said

    Jdey was detained at the same time as Moussaoui. He was carrying biology textbooks. He was released. The FBI did not disclose this at any time during the decade. It came out in the recent Harvard report by the former CIA WMD analyst. See timeline.

    • Ike Solem said

      And who were the employees of the biological threat assessment program at Detrick and Battelle? Was your Jbey among them? If not, how did he sneak into those facilities, find the illegal stockpiled biological weapons, steal some of the material, and get away clean?

      Assuming he just managed to steal the Ames strain from one of the U.S. facilities that had it, how did he then go about setting up a spore production, purification and weaponization system? The spores were purified to near-purity, 1 trillion spores per gram, no mean feat in itself. They were then mixed with a secret silica formula and pumped through some kind of spray drying system to create an aerosol powder, a uniquely deadly bioweapon, as the deaths of all those postal employees showed.

      I don’t think the “lone Al Qaeda wolf” notion has any credence whatsoever, unless you can demonstrate a close link with the biological threat inflation program, the latest addition to the entrenched military-industrial contracting system (which, by the way, is why Battelle exists, to scoop up those contracts).

      • DXer said

        Who were the employees who had access to the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency know-how involved in biological threat assessment and defense?

        Well, one former Zawahiri associate who worked alongside Bruce Ivins with virulent Ames is the subject of 20+ pages produced by the DOJ recently.

        Another scientist coordinating with the 911 imam and mentored by the sheik by the Bin Laden Al-Hawali shared a suite with the leading anthrax scientist Ken Alibek and former deputy USAMRIID Commander Charles Bailey.

        Who said anything about a “lone Al Qaeda wolf?”

      • Good point. The quality of the anthrax suggests that this attack was obviously premeditated, highly organized, and the attackers had extensive access to labs. This suggests that this preparation was more than just a single off-hand unit operating on his own.

        • DXer said

          In terms of true crime analysis, the key is that there is no reason to assume that the mailer, acquirer, and processor are the same person.

          That assumption — which the new team of investigators say that they made — serves a basis for excluding people that as a logical matter should not be excluded.

          For example, Ed, who argues that a First Grader wrote the letters, reasoned for 7 years that the Ames was acquired in Battelle and processed in New Jersey — thus making the alibi of the fellow in Wisconsin irrelevant and not a basis for excluding him.

  9. DXer said

    #29 Ed nowhere analyzes Al Haznawi’s leg legion in terms of date of arrival of his plane on June 8 in MIami, the period of incubation of cutaneous anthrax of 1 -12 days, and the date of Al Haznawi’s treatment by Dr. Tsonas.

    He does not link the expert opinion NAS panel member Henderson or Homeland security head O’Toole that it was cutaneous anthrax. He just dismisses the issue because Al Haznawi was dead at the time of the mailing.

    This is fallacious reasoning.

    Contrary to Ed’s uninformed understanding and what he repeatedly argued (that all the AQ folks were “dead, dead, dead!”), there were another Al Qaeda operative who had been part of the “planes operation” who was still very much alive at the time of the anthrax mailings. His name Jdey. The FBI has never disclosed that he was detained at the same time as Moussaoui and then released.

    Nor, the best I recall, has Ed ever even mentioned the scientist , Ali Al-Timimi, sharing the suite with the expert he relies upon, Ken Alibek. Dr. Al-Timimi’s defense counsel has described his client in filed papers as an “anthrax weapons suspect.”

    The former deputy USAMRIID Commander, who would prove a prolific Ames researcher, had the office adjacent to Dr. Al-Timimi (kitty korner judging from the floor plan). He was the head anthrax threat assessment for DIA.

    Ed’s failing to address the issues raised by others on their merits is telling.

    (The FoxNews report, Ike, refers to that suite where the head of DIA anthrax biothreat assessment was located in the office adjacent to the scientist plotting with the 911 imam). Al-Timimi was mentored by the sheik whose detention was the subject of Bin Laden’s declaration of war in 1996 and also another fellow (BP) who has explained in interviews that he recruited US Army members to jihad.

    Ike, did DIA take over project Clear Vision from CIA? See, e.g., Germs (2001). If so, when?

    Former State Department analyst Ken Dillon has a different approach to the report by Dr. Tsonas in October 2001 about his treatment of the lesion in June 2001.

    He writes on the subject today:

    Who Was the Real Anthrax Mailer?


    Under the pressure of FBI questioning and surveillance, Ivins became unhinged and committed suicide.

    (Editor’s note: The intelligence spending bill is now in a conference of the House and Senate. The House version includes an amendment sponsored by Reps. Rush Holt and Roscoe Bartlett calling for the intelligence community’s inspector general to examine a foreign connection to the post-9/11 anthrax attacks. The Senate version of the bill does not include such a provision. Please call your Senators (202-224-3121) and encourage the re-opening of the case so that the evidence implicating al Qaeda in the attacks can be thoroughly examined and that the implications of the FBI’s mishandling of the problem can be seriously addressed).

    There’s a gaping hole in the FBI’s argument that U.S. Government scientist Bruce Ivins was the anthrax mailer.

    In addition to the 100 scientists with access to virulent anthrax from Ivins’s flask whom the FBI claims to have ruled out, one unauthorized individual had a special kind of access-the kind you get when you steal something. Hovering in proximity to an unlocked refrigerator with the anthrax at George Mason University was Islamic ideologue Ali al-Timimi, who in early 2001 was studying for a Ph.D in computational biology. Al-Timimi has since been arrested and sentenced for inciting Muslims in Virginia to travel to Pakistan to fight against U.S. forces.

    (Note: The GMU researchers used what is known as Delta Ames.)

    Al-Timimi’s office was right around the corner from the offices of Charles Bailey and Ken Alibek, co-principal investigators on a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)-funded anthrax project. Bailey was a former deputy commander of USAMRIID at Fort Detrick, Maryland, where he had been a boss of Bruce Ivins. Alibek was the former deputy director of the Soviet biowarfare program. Bailey and Alibek had partnered on a patent application for a method of preparing anthrax that would closely resemble the sophisticated preparation in the letters mailed to Senators Daschle and Leahy.

    As a computer expert, al-Timimi presumably knew how to access Bailey’s poorly secured computer to obtain this application.

    All these details and more have been worked out by attorney Ross Getman, a leading researcher on the anthrax mailings case. Getman found several other labs where al Qaeda may have gained access to the anthrax, but the presence of al-Timimi and the patent application make GMU by far the most likely location.

    Al-Timimi does not show up in FBI’s report on the case, which dismisses the possibility that any foreign entity was involved in the anthrax mailings.

    And he is not the only key player who does not appear.

    Handing Off the Anthrax

    Assuming that al-Timimi indeed stole the anthrax and the instructions, here is what then seems to have happened.

    Al-Timimi provided the anthrax to a scientist who sympathized with al Qaeda and who had a lab somewhere along the Canadian border (according to the isotope ratios in the water used to prepare the anthrax). When it was ready, al-Timimi gave it to Mohamed Atta. Atta and his group of intending hijackers in Florida unsuccessfully sought to obtain a cropduster, and they evidently handled the anthrax themselves, infecting themselves in the process.

    As September 11 neared, Atta contacted Abderraouf Jdey in Montreal. Jdey, a Canadian citizen of Tunisian origin who had trained in Afghanistan, had been designated first as an alternate hijacker, then as a part of the second wave of attacks. He returned to Canada in the summer of 2001 and was detained by FBI and INS together with intending pilot Zacarias Moussaoui. Jdey was carrying biology textbooks.

    Atta appears to have handed over the vials of anthrax to Jdey in Portland, Maine on September 10, which powerfully explains Atta’s otherwise anomalous trip to Portland on the day before the September 11 terrorist attacks. Jdey, whose modus operandi involved travelling to sites in the northeastern U.S., wrote and mailed the anthrax letters in September and October. In November he left his apartment in Montreal, drove to New York, boarded American Airlines Flight #587 on November 12, and brought it down with a shoebomb. His role as shoebomber was subsequently related to interrogators by al Qaeda detainee Mohammed Mansour Jabarah and leaked in a 2004 Canadian news report.

    The Cover-up

    The FBI seems to have learned of Jdey’s likely role as the anthrax mailer in 2004, when this writer contacted the Bureau about Jdey. Investigating further, FBI appears to have found confirmatory evidence. But then-because Jdey was a terrific embarrassment-it suppressed the information it had developed, removed the note in his online biography that he had studied biology, listed him as one of the terrorists it was still hunting for, and searched for a new anthrax mailings suspect.

    Eventually, the FBI focused on capable, dedicated, patriotic, and psychologically vulnerable Bruce Ivins. Ivins was a pianist at his church, taught children juggling, was married and the father of two adopted children, was involved in many research projects, was entrusted with the anthrax, and had developed a promising vaccine for anthrax. This is the profile of an active contributor to his community, hardly of a ruthless anthrax mailer. The FBI, however, has tried to use his various quirks and obsessions to make Ivins out to be an intrinsically evil person.

    Under the pressure of FBI questioning and surveillance, Ivins became unhinged and committed suicide. Then the FBI accused him of having perpetrated the anthrax mailings, produced a collection of circumstantial evidence, and closed the case on February 19, 2010.

    FBI Director Robert Mueller told a 2008 Senate committee that he thought Ivins was guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    Beyond a reasonable doubt? Given the weak evidence and the widespread skepticism among experts and the public, this is an extreme statement that lacks any credibility.

    In fact, the key people in the anthrax mailings were not Bruce Ivins or Steven Hatfill, his predecessor as the FBI’s target. Instead, they appear to have been Ali al-Timimi and Abderraouf Jdey. And the key person in the investigation was FBI Director Robert Mueller himself.

    Kenneth J. Dillon is a retired foreign service officer who writes books on science and teaches history as an adjunct at Marymount University. A detailed discussion of the roles of al-Timimi, Jdey, and FBI in the anthrax mailings case can be found at

    • DXer said

      My powerpoints that Ken relies upon do not advance his theory although there are overlaps.

      Although it is not something I have ever discussed, the amount of information on Atta’s stay in Maine (where he ate, where he went, who he was with etc.) is fascinating. I hope Ken delves into it in looking for additional support for his theory.

    • DXer said

      Indeed, Ed’s rejection of an Al Qaeda argument was premised on his wilful failure to even address Jdey — by his pretending it was not known that other accomplices were being actively pursued and subject of $5 million BOLO alerts.

      Ed writes in his AQ section (which he has never corrected)

      ” Here is the “new evidence” as reported in The New York Times article:

      1. In June of 2001, two men visited the emergency room of Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, FL. One of them was Ahmed Alhaznawi, who piloted the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11. Dr. Christos Tsonas treated Alhaznawi for an ugly, dark lesion on his leg.

      2. After September 11, when federal investigators found the medicine among the Alhaznawi’s possessions, Dr. Tsonas was question (in October, after anthrax became a hot subject in the news, particularly in Florida). Dr. Tsonas reviewed the case and decided that the lesion “was consistent with cutaneous anthrax.”

      3. According to The New York Times, experts at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies recently sent a memorandum to government officials in which they concluded that the diagnosis of cutaneous anthrax was “the most probable and coherent interpretation of the data available.” The memorandum added, “Such a conclusion of course raises the possibility that the hijackers were handling anthrax and were the perpetrators of the anthrax letter attacks.”

      Unfortunately, Johns Hopkins fails to explain exactly how that “possibility” accounts for dead people being “the perpetrators of the anthrax letter attacks.”

      Did some member of Camp Jingo at Johns Hopkins simply fail to check his dates? Or was he or she totally out of touch with virtually every aspect of the anthrax mailing case?

      The New York Times seemed to be aware of the situation, since they alluded to the dates in a vaguely worded paragraph in the middle of their article:

      “If the hijackers did have anthrax, they would probably have needed an accomplice to mail the tainted letters, bioterrorism experts knowledgeable about the case said. The four recovered anthrax letters were postmarked on Sept. 18 and Oct. 9 in Trenton. It is also possible, experts added, that if the hijackers had come into contact with anthrax, it was entirely separate from the supply used by the letter sender.”

      Why not just say, All those September 11 guys were DEAD at the time of the anthrax mailings! It couldn’t have been them!”

      The difference between other analysts and Ed is that do not blind themselves to the fact that Jdey was an accomplice who known to have been part of the “planes operation” (and to have known anthrax planners KSM and Hambali) and has been actively pursued since the time of the anthrax mailings (with a $5 million reward offered).

    • Ike Solem said

      Really? Where they get the spray drying equipment and the Ames strain itself from?

      As far as “Ike, did DIA take over project Clear Vision from CIA?” I could care less what particular branch of the intelligence services decided that it was a good idea to get involved in biological threat assessment work – none of them should be allowed to dabble in this stuff – but what was printed in the press was that the CIA contracted with Battelle to create a mimic of the Soviet anthrax bomblet, and as part of that project, they created anthrax simulant powders – but the Ames strain itself? The DIA, on the other hand, wanted to see if Battelle scientists could really make a vaccine-resistant Ames strain that defeated the vaccine. Why? You can rationalize anything, in Dr. Strangelove’s bunker. Denials abound, but not very convincing ones.

      A program founded because of fear of biological weapons gives rise to the very bioterrorist attack it was supposed to prevent… there’s a Greek tragedy in there somewhere, I bet.

      If they made an anthrax powder as part of the biological threat assessment program, they clearly would have used Ames, because that’s the anthrax vaccine strain. Likely they’d inoculate a bunch of monkeys or rabbits with the vaccine, then expose them (along with non-vaccinated controls) to powdered anthrax spores, in order to get a “mortality estimate.”

      If that looks exactly like an offensive biowarfare program, that’s because it is – it’s just, we are assured, that the motive is different and that none of the material created would be stockpiled – but we know that’s not true, because Bill Patrick was able to take home biowarfare simulant powders with no apparent controls at all! Simulated anthrax and simulated brain encephalitis virus powders – and yes, a hostile power could get their hands on that material and reverse engineer it, couldn’t they?

      So, here we have an obviously lax program, with limited Congressional or even White House oversight, cooking up bioweapons – and then those bioweapons leak out and are used to attack the U.S. public, initiating a panic that is then used by members of that very same biological threat assessment program to greatly increase their federal funding.

      The same thing is going on with the nuclear weapons establishment right now: hysterical threat inflation right before a Congressional budget hearing.

      Arms control advocates dismissed the letters from the nuclear laboratories, which employ many thousands of nuclear specialists, as blatant attempts to protect their turf, rather than to air objective assessments.

      “They are calculating that the administration does not have the courage to do battle with them, and they may be right,” said Greg Mello, executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, a private organization that monitors the nuclear laboratories.

      “Stepping back,” he added, “it appears the White House and liberals in Congress have been outmaneuvered — again — by the nuclear weapons establishment.”

      The same might be said of the newly minted (or revitalized) biological weapons establishment.

      • DXer said

        “Ike Solem said
        March 27, 2010 at 8:21 pm
        Really? Where they get the spray drying equipment and the Ames strain itself from?”

        Your question assumes a spraydryer was the equipment that was used when, in contrast, the people who have made aerosol anthrax simulant — without exception — say it is merely one alternative. For example, a fluid bed dryer is another.
        (See, e.g., Mohr, Kiel, Alibek, Patrick, Ezzell). You cite no expert who has actually made an aerosol who says that only a spraydryer could have been used. Now, coincidentally, I favor your view a spraydryer was used (so long as you mean a mini-spraydryer) because that would explain what you call the high velocity of the particles (the Bucchi technical representative tells me it is due to the speed coming out of the nozzle). Although not a scientist, I never was impressed with the mail sorting equipment argument.

        Now, coincidentally, someone who was expert with a spraydryer and mixing with silica was arrested the day and minute that Al-Timimi’s home was searched. But given you are a political activist making a political point, I see you prefer to take a broader brush.

        At the same day and minute, the residence of a drying expert (see 350 pages of drying coefficients in PhD thesis) was searched.

        Both were connected the charity that promoted Bin Laden’s sheik and for which Al-Timimi was the lead speaker.

        • DXer said

          Years ago I called the spraydrying expert who was arrested (whose supervisor and good friend tells me he routinely mixed with silica) to ask for his insights.

          But he said he couldn’t talk because too much was going on. 100 agents had come and simultaneously interviewed 150 people on the day of his arrest and close surveillance was continuing.

        • DXer said

          As I vaguely recall, the Bucch technical representative said there were 200 mini spraydryers in the country at the time.

  10. Ike Solem said

    You really have to wonder if the entire medical establishment at DHHS has gone off the deep end, and not just on biological warfare issues:

    “There was tremendous overreaction to the threat posed by H1N1, which Alcabes said “ended up kind of the goose that laid the golden egg for the vaccine manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies.”

    Alcabes insisted that swine flu fizzled before the vaccine was produced and consequently mass immunizations were not necessary. The campaigns only happened, he said, because pharmaceutical companies, politicians and the media stoked fear that H1N1 could parallel the very deadly 1918 flu pandemic.”

    Sure, there are opposing viewpoints, but the experts all agreed the vaccine did little if anything to stop H1N1 from spreading.

    Now, ask yourself what the real motive of our bioterrorist(s) was, when they dropped the first letter in on 9/18… and it seems the answer was all about whipping up fear. However, it the first mailings largely failed, other than in killing Bob Stevens at American Media in Boca Raton. The letters were thrown away, except for the New York Post letter, which only surfaced after the Daschle letter had been opened.

    NY Post letter graphic + details

    * The envelope was never opened by the New York Post because it did not contain a return address and was not sent to a specific person.
    * The envelope was discovered on the evening of October 19, 2001.
    * The first person infected by New York Post anthrax letter was Johanna Huden, assistant to Editorial Page Editor Bob McManus. She first noticed a skin infection on September 22, 2001.

    One of the more puzzling issues here is whether the NY Post letter was identical to the Daschle letter, in terms of the powder preparation and the genetic identity. Confounding this is the fact that the dry spore powder might be sensitive to environmental conditions, like temperature and humidity (and autoclaving), and so it could have behaved differently in different circumstances. However, no one at the New York Post or the mail transfer centers got inhalation anthrax – the only inhalation anthrax victim from the first set of letters was Bob Stevens.

    Now, the bioterrorist is unhappy because there aren’t huge press headlines booming “Al Qaeda Anthrax Attack!” and so prepares the second set of letters, this time explicitly spelling out “anthrax” – and to ensure a response, he sends them to U.S. Senators Daschle & Leahy on Oct 9. Same envelopes, same paper, same photocopier, but new message (we guess). Is it the same sample of anthrax powder from the same jar? Or does the bioterrorist have access to a more potent grade of material? One that behaves like this:

    “Within seconds, the cloud started becoming transparent, and then, abruptly, it vanished. The particles seemed to be gone. It had looked like steam coming out a teapot.”

    This time, the attempt to induce panic is very successful, and the bioterrorist withdraws, probably destroying as much evidence as possible in an effort to cover his trail, and assuming that Al Qaeda will be blamed for the attack.

    This leads one to suspect that the bioterrorist doesn’t know much about microbial genetics, since the attack strain is soon revealed to be the Ames strain, which only Fort Detrick & the U.S. anthrax vaccine testers have access to (plus Canadian and British biodefense labs). Whoops! If only they had used Vollum with the bentonite recipe, right? That’s what Iraq had. Maybe they didn’t consider this, maybe they didn’t care – because it was quite a panic.

    By the way, here’s a very good microbe-scale movie of how anthrax toxins work in the body:

    Anthrax toxin mechanism, Youtube

    The panic was a bit justifiable, because our bioterrorist might have had a few kilos of the stuff, enough to saturate New York City’s subway system with no one being the wiser until the first casualties began to appear. Let’s recall the FBI’s definition of domestic terrorism, just for fun:

    Domestic terrorism is the unlawful use, or threatened use, of violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States (or its territories) without foreign direction, committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

    We don’t even know if it was domestic or international terrorism, really! We know nothing, in fact, other than that the proffered explanations for this incident are a foul pack of lies, intended primarily to protect the biowarfare establishment from public scrutiny…

    What next? Maybe it was Arab terrorists who killed all those sheep in Dugway Utah back in the late 1960s, too?

    P.S. For a more detailed list of reasons why Fort Detrick is not a likely source of the anthrax, see this article in the NYT:

    Dr. Ivins, for instance, was asked to analyze the anthrax envelope that was sent to Mr. Daschle’s office on Oct. 9, 2001. When his team analyzed the powder, they found it to be a startlingly refined weapons-grade anthrax spore preparation, the likes of which had never been seen before by personnel at Fort Detrick. It is extremely improbable that this type of preparation could ever have been produced at Fort Detrick, certainly not of the grade and quality found in that envelope.

    This is a central issue that the FBI has tried very hard to respin – most notably via promotion of bogus “silica in the media culture” claims, bogus “lyophilizer” claims, and a lot of stonewalling and over-the-top security classifications (SCIF-level). The issue of how samples were processed prior to their arrival at Sandia, for example, has never even been touched on. Now, the FBI has done all this “disclosure” in order to answer this charge:

    This case is apparently closed with Dr. Ivins’s death. But until the F.B.I. discloses its scientific testing methods and data, many questions will remain unanswered.

    The FBI claims it has revealed those techniques – but the detail revealed so far raise more questions than they answer. It does seem clear, for example, that the parents of the Ames spores used in the attack were kept at Fort Detrick, but it’s also clear that samples of that parent stock were distributed to at least five other labs, if not a few more. Hence, the genetic work (still unpublished) linking letter spore ‘morphs’ to the Detrick RMR flasks is not conclusive proof of Detrick’s involvement, even if completely accurate (a still-open question).

    The two lines of scientific evidence that the FBI relied on – the genetic ‘fingerprint’ and the micro-physical analysis of the spore powders – don’t point towards Ivins; taken together they point away from him – and directly at the ultra-secret U.S. biological threat assessment programs initiated (we think) in the 1990s.

    • DXer said

      Ike writes:

      “One of the more puzzling issues here is whether the NY Post letter was identical to the Daschle letter, in terms of the powder preparation…”

      We know that it was substantially different, right? For example, Ivins graded the Post material a “C” and Daschle material a “B” — and in his report provides the detail.

      • Ike Solem said

        Point here is that that difference may just be due to the humidity and temperature conditions that the weaponized anthrax material encountered between being packaged into the letter and being analyzed at USAMRIID.

        Michael, who the FBI is relying on for all matters related to spore silica content, said this:

        “The New York Post, Leahy and Daschle materials are basically indistinguishable, elementally, at the spore level, and they both have a similar fraction of the spores with the silicon and oxygen in or on the spore coat.”

        That’s despite the fact that the Sandia Lab didn’t have any of the Daschle powder itself to look at, by the way.

        The fact that the FBI can’t even come up with a coherent story on whether the preparation slipped into the 9/18 letters was the same as the 10/9 letters is more evidence of massive incompetence in the handling of this case, possibly deliberate incompetence.

        • BugMaster said

          “That’s despite the fact that the Sandia Lab didn’t have any of the Daschle powder itself to look at, by the way.”

          He didn’t have to. All he had to do is ask Ed Lake!

  11. DXer said

    #28 Ed never knew what this Fox News report was about and just assume, without basis, that Fox News DOJ correspondent Catherine Herridge was mistaken.

    FBI Focusing on ‘About Four’ Suspects in 2001 Anthrax Attacks
    Friday, March 28, 2008
    By Catherine Herridge and Ian McCaleb
    WASHINGTON — The FBI has narrowed its focus to “about four” suspects in the 6 1/2-year investigation of the deadly anthrax attacks of 2001, and at least three of those suspects are linked to the Army’s bioweapons research facility at Fort Detrick in Maryland, FOX News has learned.

    Among the pool of suspects are three scientists — a former deputy commander, a leading anthrax scientist and a microbiologist — linked to the research facility, known as USAMRIID.

    The FBI has collected writing samples from the three scientists in an effort to match them to the writer of anthrax-laced letters that were mailed to two U.S. senators and at least two news outlets in the fall of 2001, a law enforcement source confirmed.

    The anthrax attacks began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, further alarming a nation already reeling from the deaths of 3,000 Americans. Five people were killed and more than a dozen others were infected by the deadly spores in the fall of 2001.

    A leading theory is that the anthrax was stolen from Fort Detrick and then sealed inside the letters. A law enforcement source said the FBI is essentially engaged in a process of elimination.

    Much of the early public focus fell on a Fort Detrick scientist named Steven Hatfill, who is suing federal authorities for identifying him as a person of interest. Now the FBI is focusing on other scientists at the facility.

    “Fort Detrick is run by the United States Army. It’s the most secure biological warfare research center in the United States,” a bioterrorism expert told FOX News.

    Asked to comment on the likelihood that the anthrax originated at the facility, the expert said:

    “It’s not suprising, except that it would underscore that there was serious security deficiencies that existed at one time at Fort Detrick — the ability of researchers to smuggle out some type of very sophisticated anthrax weapon and in some quantity. And, nevertheless, it was possible.”

    In December 2001, an Army commander tried to dispel the possibility of a connection to Fort Detrick by taking the media on a rare tour of the base. The commander said the Army used only liquid anthrax, not powder, for its experiments.

    “I would say that it does not come from our stocks, because we do not use that dry material,” Maj. Gen. John Parker said. The letters that were mailed to the media and Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy all contained powdered anthrax.

    But in an e-mail obtained by FOX News, scientists at Fort Detrick openly discussed how the anthrax powder they were asked to analyze after the attacks was nearly identical to that made by one of their colleagues.

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

    Asked for comment, an Army spokeswoman referred all calls to the FBI. The FBI would not comment about the pool of suspects, but a spokeswoman said the investigation clearly remains a priority.

    • DXer said

      #29 Ed never even knew who made dry spore powder at Ft. Detrick.

    • Ike Solem said

      Those are the same two reporters who were “embedded” within the FBI for positive PR purposes, right?,2933,392581,00.html

      This doesn’t necessarily produce an objective view of the situation – and if the sources are the same ones who leaked Steven Hatfill’s name to people like Kristoff at the NYT and Toni Locy at USA Today, well – how reliable are those sources?

      Fort Detrick last made powdered anthrax in the late 1960s, by all indications. They faced a huge uproar over having some shellfish toxin left over from the CIA-Army program, discovered in the 1970s, and manufacturing powdered anthrax was not going to happen. It wasn’t until “biological threat assessment” became the catchword that efforts to replicate Soviet powdered anthrax were initiated, and it is very clear that the threat assessment work took place at Battelle and Dugway.

      • DXer said

        Ike, is there anything about the report you find inaccurate? The report describes an email written by Bruce Ivins to Pat Fellows about dry powder at Ft. Detrick and Anonymous Scientist worked very hard to translate the text.

        Ike says “Fort Detrick last made powdered anthrax in the late 1960s, by all indications.” Dr. Ivins was referring to the powder that was made by JE, the FBI’s anthrax expert, who I interviewed about Dr. Ivins’ claim to Pat in the email.

        So why do you say that “Fort Detrick last made powdered anthrax in the late 1960s”?

        • DXer said

          The man on the telephone was telling me that he was under a gag order and that the FBI likely was wiretapping his telephone. Dr. John Ezzell was the FBI’s anthrax specialist who first examined the finely powderized anthrax sent to the United Senators Leahy and Daschle. It was July 2009. He had returned my call from moments earlier. When he called, I was on the other line continuing a message on his answering machine. I was saying I knew he was innocent and that the aerosolized Ames he had supplied had been tested to be inactive.

          He confirmed that he made dry powdered anthrax at USAMRIID’s Ft. Detrick in 1996 for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (“DARPA”). Beginning in 1996, he also worked for the FBI’s Hazardous Materials Response Unit. After coming under suspicion, Dr. Bruce Ivins wrote an email to his colleague and friend Patricia Fellows saying that he had heard that the aerosolized anthrax made by Dr. Ezzell for DARPA was the closest match to the anthrax mailed in Fall 2001 that Dr. Ezzell had examined.

          Dr. Ivins had emailed a superior on December 18, 2006 about what he heard about the FBI at a party. Ivins expressed concern that something might have been taken or altered from his B3 stocks. Ivins was told by email from the superior to not talk about it — that the FBI situation was under control. But it turned out not to be under control. Dr. Ivins’ colleagues were ordered not to talk to him beginning November 2007. He was removed from the base by armed escort in late July. Bruce Ivins took his life on July 29, 2008. It has now been over 16 months since the FBI said that the crazy, dead guy was the sole suspect in the anthrax mailings. At the time, the US Department of Justice announced that the case was solved and the case would be closed shortly. The trail of evidence that should have led Amerithrax investigators to the infiltration of DARPA and US biodefense and withdrawal from Dr. Ivins’ stock dated back to the time of the mailings and was discernable from “open source” intelligence.

          Was there a miscommunication between me and Dr. JE?

          Did Anonymous Scientist make a mistake in translate the hard to read email that as I recall he grabbed from a screen shot as Ms. Herridge held it up? (I emailed Patriciia Fellows and tried to reach Mara Linscott but neither responded).

        • DXer said

          Are you suggesting that JE physically at the time he made it was located somewhere other than Ft. Detrick?

        • DXer said

          Dr. Ezzell told me that it had been gamma irradiated and that testing indicated that the irradiation had been successful.

        • DXer said

          The library is where the old notebooks are kept, right?

        • BugMaster said

          Not neccessarily. Usually reference materials are in a common library.

          Individual notebooks would probably be elsewhere, although an archive of copies of the notebooks might have been there.

  12. DXer said

    #26 Ed’s defense of his First Grader Theory — he estimates that it is 99% certain a First Grader wrote the letters — was based on 3 letters written by kids he found on the internet.

    That is not science. It is nonsense that remains on his website 9 years later.

    #27. Ed lamented that he did not have the letters written to Santa without appreciating that such a sampling was biased. He was excluding all those who did not believe in Santa Claus. Bill Nye would not approve of Ed’s understanding of science — or his understanding of Daubert and what constitutes admissible expert opinion evidence.

  13. DXer said

    #25 Ed appears not to processed the key Washington Field Office memo on the location of the two 500 ml flasks containing RMR 1029. I don’t recall him ever mentioning that the number who had access something like 377 (allowing for some double-counting of personnel who had access at both Building 1412 and 1425). That is, it is several times the “100” figure that Jeff Taylor cited in August 2008, referring only to Building 1425. That “100” figure is regularly mistakenly cited.

    “Where the flasks of RMR 1029 Were Kept”

  14. DXer said

    Continuing with the 214 important errors in Ed’s website, we have #15:

    “Like everyone else, except me, the Washington Times seems to feel that if the FBI isn’t working on their pet theory, then the FBI is not on the right track.

    I’m excluding myself because I believe the FBI is working on my pet theory. I believe they are trying to make a case against a scientist who lives and works in Central New Jersey. But it’s a very difficult case to make. And no matter how much circumstantial evidence they may have accumulated, they can’t make an arrest until the scientific case is wrapped up. Until they can prove to a scientific certainty that the attack anthrax originated in a specific lab and that it was made in a specific way, it would be an almost hopeless case to take to court – or even to justify an arrest. There would be just too much “reasonable doubt”.”

    Ed was mistaken.

    • DXer said

      In Ed’s webpage on spore coatings, he argues:

      “It’s also very possible – and probably very likely – that the anthrax was made in one of the many sophisticated labs in Central New Jersey capable of producing such material.
      And my own analysis says that that laboratory is most likely located somewhere in Central New Jersey.”

      Ed had no factual basis for his speculation.

    • DXer said


      Jumping to present day and working in reverse chronological order, on March 24, 2010 ed argues:

      “The documents released by the FBI make it very clear that Dr. Ivins was becoming the focus of the Amerithrax investigation in the early months of 2005. ”

      This is fallacious reasoning. The fact that someone has a lawyer present (he in fact had altered a central record) does not indicate that he was becoming the focus of the Amerithrax investigation.

      The lead AUSA wrote a letter in April 2007 to Dr. Ivins explaining that he was not a target of the investigation.

      In early 2005, according to the record disclosed, the FBI, for the first time, had obtained correspondence involving a former Zawahiri associate involving virulent Ames supplied by Bruce Ivins,

    • DXer said


      Ed links this document but has no answer on this critical issue. Instead, everything Ivins does is because he is “slippery.”


      1. A total of 3 -4 trillion RMR 1029 spores were sent to Battelle in the spring of 2001.

      2. Shortly before he died by _____________ admitted to _______ that Battelle had made spore powder.

      3. Why isn’t the RMR 1029 material that Battelle submitted to the FBI repository the same as the RMR 1029 spore suspension that was sent to them from USAMRIID? Since the RMR 1029 suspension was the only large stockpile of Ames spores that we had, other material couldn’t have been sent to Battelle by mistake.”

      • BugMaster said

        “Why isn’t the RMR 1029 material that Battelle submitted to the FBI repository the same as the RMR 1029 spore suspension that was sent to them from USAMRIID?”

        It was the same material.

        • DXer said

          I think what Dr. Ivins’ note means to be asking is why didn’t it test to be genetically identical (with 4 morphs).

        • BugMaster said

          Because all 4 morphs weren’t recovered from the sample when the FBI analyzed it.

          To recover all 4 morphs every time isn’t as straightforward as you might think.

          There are at least 2 reasons why all 4 morphs may not be isolated from a sample that contains them.

          For one, a very common problem can occur when the material that is diluted out and plated (to obtain colonies from individual cells so the mutant colonies can be DETECTED and RE-ISOLATED FOR GENETIC ANALYSIS).

          If there is much clumping (2 or more spores or cells sticking together), then you will not neccessarily recover the mutants at a level you previously expected. A colony that grew as a result of one normal Ames spore sticking to a Morph spore will look the same as a normal wild-type colony.

          (And note Ivin’s emails describing clumping problems with the RMR-1029 spore material).

          It WAS genetically identical. But without isolated each of the 4 morphs out in pure culture, no genetic analyis can be performed on said morphs.

          In otherwords, the mixed culture (wild type Ames plus morphs) if analyzed as a mixed culture, cannot reveal the presence of the mutant strains within.

        • DXer said

          Thanks very much. I always appreciate the expert input.

          What is your view of the fact that UNM was not a match?

          This also perplexed Dr. Ivins given that (although the note was added after the fact in 2004) his notes indicate that he shipped by fed ex to UNM in 3/2001. (I have no idea why they would ship it if the BL-3 was not operational until many months later).

    • DXer said


      The Investigative Summary states:

      “In addition, during these same few weeks, Dr. Ivins exhibited an unusual pattern of access to the USAMRIID Library, where there was a photocopying machine. On Sunday, September 16, he was in the library from 2:11 p.m. through 2:25 p.m. According to lab access records, also present were two other USAMRIID employees. On Saturday, September 22, he was present in the library from 8:22 p.m. through 8:36 p.m., with no other researchers present. Finally, on Friday, September 28, he was in the library from 10:42 p.m. through 10:55 p.m., again with no other researchers present. Each of the anthrax-laden letters was a photocopy of originals which have never been found.”

      Ed confirms that that photocopier machine was NOT the one used in the attacks — highlighting the fact that despite the availability of science that would permit matching of toner, the evidence is exculpatory of Dr. Ivins with respect to the photocopy machine at the location where he was at.

      But then he goes on to argue:

      “To me, that could mean that Ft. Detrick bought a new copy machine between September 2001 and the time in 2005 or 2007 when the FBI examined the copy machine in the library to see if it produced the attack letters. OR the machine could have been cleaned and overhauled a half dozen times during the intervening years, making any match impossible to determine.”

      Ed’s suggestion that the FBI would be so negligent not to examine the copy machines in the building known to be the major repository of the US Army Ames strain has no basis and is not reasonable.

      The public reports confirm that the FBI collected 1,000+ photocopy exemplars — including all those near stores of virulent Ames. They did not wait to do until 2005 or 2007 as Ed without basis speculates. They did it over 8 years ago.

      Moreover, he apparently does not understand the distinct inquiries. While one involves “trash marks”, one involves toner. The examination of toner does not even require the machine. Dr. Bartick and his colleagues and consultants could examine the toner printed on papers copied during the Fall 2001 period. Dr. Bartick does not deny that examination showed that there was not a match. Yet the FBI has withheld the forensic report on the toner.

      If Ed were a fact-based, evidence-based guy, he would be pressing the FBI under FOIA for a copy of the forensic report on the toner.

      • DXer said

        #24 Ed would always be sure to fuel rumors by adding his own “interpretations” not supported by any factual basis.

        Ed wrote:

        “One rumor from early November indicated that someone was about to be indicted on a charge of “accessory after the fact” in the Amerithrax case. Another rumor from late November indicated that the same person was actually indicted on a charge of “lying to a federal officer.” There’s been nothing in the media about any of this. But there are rumors explaining that, too, rumors which I’d better keep to myself.

        … What’s most interesting, of course, is that if charges were made and if an indictment was actually handed down, that means that there is evidence proving that the person indicted did indeed have critical knowledge of exactly who committed the anthrax attacks of 2001.

        The truly surprising part of this is that the person supposedly indicted is not a scientist and did not work at Ft. Detrick. Yet, it’s easy to understand how others might know details about the murders allegedly committed by Dr. Ivins when you recall that Dr. Ivins evidently saw no problem with emailing others to tell them about his suspicious actions before and after the attacks. He also didn’t have any problem telling his psychotherapy group that he planned to murder his co-workers at Ft. Detrick in order to go down in a blaze of glory before he could be arrested for mass murder and terrorism. And, he was a diagnosed sociopath, which could mean that he didn’t see anything wrong with what he did and would want to explain his actions to other people.

        After analyzing all these rumors, one might deduce that, at some point in time, Dr. Ivins actually told someone that he had sent the anthrax letters. And others somehow heard or learned what Dr. Ivins said to that person. But that is just an interpretation. No rumor actually mentions any such a thing.”

      • DXer said

        #26 Apart from his error in analysis of the toner and “trash marks” issues, Ed also overlooks the fact that the examination of the composition of the paper is also exculpatory. (Yet he expresses no interest in obtaining the forensic report on the paper from the FBI under FOIA because it would disprove his belief.)

        No document or piece of paper seized from Dr. Ivins was a match in paper composition to the A3-type paper that was used and then cut down.

        Dr. Ivins did not even use 11 x 17″ paper.

        Instead, Dr. Ivins would use 8 x 11″ reams. A 302 interview statement indicates he would bring a box into the office.

    • DXer said


      On December 13, 2009, Ed wrote:

      “We’ve really seen only the general science of the anthrax case, not the scientific evidence which specifically points to Dr. Ivins as the anthrax mailer.”

      Ed fails to appreciate that no evidence which specifically points to Dr. Ivins as the anthrax mailer was ever forthcoming! And in fact, in the 92-page investigative summary the DOJ does not rely on a single piece of evidence that specifically point to Dr. Ivin as the mailer. Under the report, all the science is irrelevant. The exculpatory scientific studies — such as the examination of the toner — are being withheld.

    • DXer said


      “We’ve heard that “No one received material from that flask without going through Dr. Ivins.” Exactly what does that mean? Are we talking about rules or something more tangible? Was flask RMR-1029 in a refrigerator that anyone could open? Or was it a locked refrigerator to which only Dr. Ivins and the head of USAMRIID or some security officer had keys?”

      Yet, Ed never goes back to explain that the anthrax was kept in an unlocked refrigerator to which the DOJ estimates 350+ had access. The record shows that people would commonly go into refrigerators to find that their stuff had been moved. It would be no different than if you shared the family refrigerator with 350 folks. The idea that you have sole control of the piece of pizza you left in the refrigerator last night is stupid.

      Ed quotes Dr. Alibek explaining that the same anthrax can be grown even by stealing a single spore.

  15. DXer said


    On the issue of silicon signature, for years Ed argued that silica used as an additive would make a spore heavier and less floatable. His confusion on scientific matters is so central that it is breathtaking. (This understanding of silica rivaled only by his later confusion on the genetics, where he thought the genetics pinpointed one person rather than hundreds — according to the DOJ, 350+ at USAMRIID and more downstream at other locations.)

    Ed wrote:

    December 21, 2004 – I won’t put any of the actual discussion between Dr. Alibek and I on this site until after Christmas, and then it will only be the sections of the discussion which were about coatings and silica. Meanwhile, in keeping with the latest rewrite ofmy book, the discussions I’m having with conspiracy theorists about the interview have illustrated another bizarre misconception that is scientifically preposterous, but they evidently don’t care.

    One of the widely-held, mistaken beliefs about the anthrax found in the Daschle letter in 2001 is that it the spores were coated with silica, which made the spores “fly” farther and more easily.

    This has always seemed to be total nonsense to me, because adding the weight of silica to a spore can only make it fly less well and less far.

    No one seems to have challenged the bizarre notion that added weight will somehow make a spore fly farther.”

  16. DXer said


    Pointing to the speciousness of Ed’s current approach, Ed once correctly explained:

    “Weaponization” in the anthrax case is really just a buzz word, and buzz words are used mainly by people who don’t want to bother explaining details about their cause or their area of expertise. …

    …A much better term for what was done between the two mailings is that the unrefined anthrax was refined to make it more lethal. The deadly element of anthrax was separated from the harmless debris of sporulation. I.e., the deadly elements were concentrated so that they can more easily overcome human immune systems.

    The word “weaponization” has no real value when it comes to understanding anything about the anthrax case – except that the attack anthrax was not modified to make vaccines and antibiotics ineffective. Any real “weaponization” would have done that as the first objective. When the object is to kill with a “weapon”, you first make certain that it can penetrate the defenses of the person being attacked.”


    Here, microencapsulation — and the coat’s incorporation of silicon — accomplishes precisely that judging by the Japanese study.

  17. Ike Solem said

    Here’s an interesting tidbit:

    “In his State of the Union address on Jan. 27, President Obama announced a new initiative to respond faster and more effectively to bioterrorism and infectious diseases. The Administration said it plans to pursue “a business model that leverages market forces and reduces risk to attract pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry collaboration with the U.S. government.” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has launched a comprehensive review of the nation’s public health countermeasure enterprise with the goal of providing “a modernized countermeasure production process where we have more promising discoveries, more advanced development, more robust manufacturing, better stockpiling, and more advanced distribution practices. In other words, we want to create a system that can respond to any threat at any time.””

    Yikes, it’s Rumsfeld-speak coming from the DHHS! Once again, they’ve failed to recognize that in the event of any biological attack that doesn’t come with a big tag saying “I’m anthrax”, the first victims will hit the emergency rooms first, and if there are many victims, such emergency rooms will be overrun. So, you need backup emergency rooms – but they’d rather spend the money on stockpiling vaccines – which will be of little use to anyone already infected. Is there an epidemiologist in that outfit, or just a bunch of brown-nosers looking for corporate positions once their political gig is up?

    However, this keeps the pharmaceutical sector happy, knowing that they, like the arms industry, can now count on juicy government welfare contracts for whatever pandemic panic might just be looming on the horizon – Asian Bird Flu and the Tamiflu sales boom, Mexican Swine Flu and the H1N1 vaccine sales boom, and so on and on.

    Too bad. It appears that shining any bright lights into the nexus of public-private biowarfare contracting that generated the anthrax attacks is not on this Administration’s agenda, any more than it was on the last one’s – but what if they do have a real disaster, and end up handling it the same way Bush did Katrina? Cordon off the area and parachute in the vaccine stockpile? Anyone dumb enough to put a $1 billion biological warfare facility in Kansas, full of plant and animal pathogens, right next to all manner of livestock, agriculture, etc…

    Encouraging it isn’t. Is this what we pay income tax for? So the government can facilitate some criminal committing anthrax attacks on its own people using methods it developed itself – blowback supremo – and then use those very same attacks as a justification for ever-more-bloated biodefense expenditures that do nothing to reduce risk (quite the opposite) but which are great boons for appreciative campaign donors? Banal indeed.

    Maybe the public heath departments of individual states are more rational in their approach, more willing to listen to reason? Because DHHS & DHS are still full of crazy people, by all indications. Chertoff, by the way, has gone off to take a job at BAE Systems… and Battelle now has an Air Force general, a Marine general and a Navy vice admiral on the Board – good for protection from pestering inquiries, I imagine.

    Howling, barking lunacy… who said you could make biological weapons, little monkeys?

  18. Ike Solem said

    Don’t forget to take a look at NBFAC, the National Bioforensic Analysis Center where slides were prepared for analysis before being sent on to Sandia – and notice also, Sandia was never even given a single sample of Daschle spore powder for analysis.

    The NBFAC is joined at the hip to the Battelle National Biodefense Institute (BNBI – regular alphabet soup here) under the guise of the management contract:

    The Science and Technology Directorate oversees the management of the NBACC as a federally funded research and development center. On December 20, 2006, DHS selected Battelle National Biodefense Institute to conduct scientific programs and operate the NBACC facility.

    So, if these are the people who prepared the slides for Sandia to analyze, and if Sandia found low levels of silica, then perhaps the sample preparation method was chosen in order to give just that result?

    • Ike Solem said

      There’s this further fact about the NBACC:

      NBACC’s Biological Threat Characterization Center (BTCC) conducts studies and laboratory experiments to fill in information gaps to better understand current and future biological threats; to assess vulnerabilities and conduct risk assessments; and to determine potential impacts to guide the development of countermeasures such as detectors, drugs, vaccines, and decontamination technologies.

      This is almost certainly the same Battelle group that was involved in the biological threat assessments ordered by the CIA and the DIA – namely, making an anthrax bomblet loaded with high-tech weaponized spores (Clear Vision) and creating vaccine-resistant anthrax strains (Jefferson). There may be other such programs still hidden beneath the cloak of official secrecy.

      If so, and these programs were charged with preparing samples to send to Sandia, then maybe the details of their preparation techniques should be examined?

      Deliberate falsification of data to sell the FBI’s Ivins story would not be least bit surprising, would it?

  19. Ike Solem said

    I’d be asking Bill Patrick to testify on the methods used to make the ultra-fine, dissolving-into-thin-air weapons simulants that he showed to Ken Alibek and reporter Richard Preston.

    Was silica used in that preparation? The answer is surely found in the classified top-secret files describing the U.S. biological threat assessment programs conducted in the 1990s, isn’t it?

    • Anonymous scientist said

      Alibek has a Doctor of Sciences degree in anthrax. It is a kind of superdegree, which he received in 1988, at the age of thirty-seven, for directing the research team that developed the Soviet Union’s most powerful weapons-grade anthrax. He did this research as head of the Stepnagorsk bioweapons facility, in what is now Kazakhstan, which was once the largest biowarfare production facility in the world. The Alibekov anthrax became fully operational in 1989. It is an amber-gray powder, finer than bath talc, with smooth, creamy particles that tend to fly apart and vanish in the air, becoming invisible and drifting for miles. The Alibekov anthrax is four times more efficient than the standard product.

      One day, Ken Alibek and I were sitting in a conference room near his office talking about the anthrax he and his research team had developed. “It’s very difficult to say if I felt a sense of excitement over this. It’s very difficult to say what I felt like,” he said. “It wouldn’t be true to say that I thought I was doing something wrong. I thought I had done something very important. The anthrax was one of my scientific results — my personal result.”

      I asked him if he’d tell me the formula for his anthrax.

      “I can’t say this,” he answered.

      “I won’t publish it. I’m just curious,” I said.

      “Look, you must understand, this is unbelievably serious. You can’t publish this formula,” he said. When I assured him I wouldn’t, he told me the formula for the Alibekov anthrax. He uttered just one sentence. The Alibekov anthrax is simple, and the formula is somewhat surprising, not quite what you’d expect. Two unrelated materials are mixed with pure powdered anthrax spores. It took a lot of research and testing to get the trick right, and Alibek must have driven his research group hard and skillfully to arrive at it. “There are many countries that would like to know how to do this.” he said.

      • Ike Solem said

        Come on Ed – it’s clear that when Alibek defected to the United States, he was debriefed by Bill Patrick, who understood what he was talking about.

        The particle size in these spore preparations is pretty uniform: 1 spore. So, here you have anthrax spores, purified to a concentration of 1 trillion spores per gram, and then treated in such a manner that they aerosolize into individual spores – here’s a description from Richard Preston, the Demon in the Freezer:

        “Within seconds, the cloud started becoming transparent, and then, abruptly, it vanished. The particles seemed to be gone. It had looked like steam coming out a teapot.”

        So, you now have uniformly sized particles in a narrow range of sizes, 1-5 microns, one spore per particle. Normally, spores stick together as they dry, forming large clumps of many spores. How is this avoided or mitigated?

        The Soviets first simply grew, purified and dried the spores, then took the resulting material and milled it – the equipment used was either a giant ball-bearing milling or some kind of “jet milling” procedure – this was apparently what was in use at Sverdlovsk in 1979, when a technician removed a filter and let anthrax powder drift over the city, killing perhaps several hundred people.

        This kind of milling does not produce individual coated spores, although it is still an effective aerosol, according to Soviet animal tests.

        To produce the individual spores in this manner, you must use sophisticated spray drying techniques. Advanced spray nozzels can use electric fields to produce absolutely uniform liquid drops (say, 5 um in diameter). If each such drop contains one anthrax spore and some silica-based additives, then as it dries in the spray room, the silica glops onto the spore coat – it would be a bit “splatty”, as described (again) in the Demon in the Freezer:

        Geisbert turned a knob and zoomed in. An anthrax spore is five times larger than a smallpox particle. He was looking for bricks of pox, so he was looking for little objects, searing spore by spore. The task of finding a few particles of smallpox mixed into a million anthrax spores was like walking over a mile of stony gravel looking for a few diamonds in the rough. He saw no bricks of pox. But he noticed some sort of goop clinging to the spores. It made the spores look like fried eggs – the spores were the yolks, and the goop was the white. It was a kind of splatty stuff.

        Geisbert twisted the knob and turned up the power of the beam to get a more crisp image. As he did, he saw the goop begin to spread out of the spores. Those spores were sweating something.

        Okay, so the splatty stuff was the silicon-based coating, applied using the spray technique, which converts the liquid suspension of purified spores to an activated aerosol bioweapon, deadly in the most minute amounts – and quite capable of slipping through the pores in envelope paper.

        Second, the ion beam used at Sandia likely had the same effect on the samples – “Those spores were sweating something.” Fry them in an electon or ion beam, and the silicon coating comes boiling off – that’s a testable proposition, too. See for the Michael transcript – they clearly fried their samples and altered their properties from the original state.

        By the way, I think Alibek and Patrick had no involvement whatsoever in the attacks – although they might be the ones who invented the technological approach used in the attacks. They were never allowed to see the actual anthrax powders themselves, although the FBI did show them “photographs” of the anthrax – likely the doctored samples that went through Battelle’s hands.

        This really leaves only one culprit: the biological threat assessment programs run by the CIA, the DIA and Battelle Memorial Institute from the late 1990s into 2000-2001. The current status of of the biological threat assessment program is unknown, being protected by the same level of security as nuclear weapons information (and yes, the Chinese now have copies of all U.S. nuclear weapons programs.) The real purpose of putting the NBACC-Battelle outfit in a SCIF is likely to hide what they’re doing – such as offensive biological weapons development under the cover of “biodefense” – from the public.

        Under a revamped Biological Warfare Convention, foreign countries would be allowed to inspect the activities of that SCIF – something that neither the Obama or Bush Administrations seem very interested in allowing.

        Whatever are they doing in there?

        • Ike Solem said

          What misunderstandings? Casting aspersions without specifically addressing issues?

          What, specifically, did they miss?

          Your website says this, correct:

          “Yet a coating can look like “‘splatty goop or gunk’ of a fried egg white” if viewed by someone who has never seen dried anthrax spores before.”

          What does that mean? The spores didn’t stick together, and they aerosolized into individual spores. That requires spraying drying with some silica compound formula – most likely the equipment used was the BattellePharma Nebulizer or something similar – and that means that the U.S. biological warfare threat assessment program jointly operated by the CIA, the DIA and Battelle, is by far the most likely source of the material that went into the letters.

        • Ike Solem said

          Your “information” looks more like “disinformation”, Ed. I can find zero support for your “multiple particle sizes” claim – unless you are talking about the results of the sample doctoring carried out by Battelle, who took at least one Daschle anthrax sample, autoclaved it, and then sent it on to Sandia for analysis:

          Have you even bothered to read the transcripts of the scientists who testified before the NAS, Ed?

          Over here is the low-mag SEM of the New York Post material, and over here is the low-mag SEM of the Leahy material. And you notice in the New York Post are these fairly large chunks – this is a 100 micron bar, so these chunks are quite large – and in fact, they’re very hard little pieces of material. In fact, we like to break them up to see more of the internal structure of these clumps. And you can take a pair of tweezers and clamp them on there and kind of click them, to make these particles break apart – so they’re very hard, uh, little particles.

          How did 1-5 um spores that flitted through envelopes, killing postal workers at Brentwood and even postal customers in their homes (simply through contact with the anthrax letters) suddenly become 100 um clumps? Since the samples were prepared by Battelle at NBFAC under the NBACC umbrella, with an ultra-security classification that prevents anyone from finding out how those samples were processed… well, draw your own conclusions.

          Anyone can see that Battelle’s involvement in this case centers around trying to downplay the lethality on the anthrax material used and the technological sophistication needed to create it – but they’re not exactly the only ones playing that game, correct, Ed?

        • DXer said


          I’ve compiled a list of 117 factual errors in Ed’s book and 214 in Ed’s webpage — all of which I politely advised Ed of at the time (and no correction was made).

          To include 4 just yesterday. I’ll see if Lew will let me post the list after lunch.

        • DXer said

          #2 Ed wrote on December 28, 2001:

          “Two things occurred to me today: (1) The anthrax terrorist suspect was actually playing with the Milwaukee police when, on September 18th, he invited them to look in his basement for “an anthrax delivery system” he was building. The “system” was probably just a few envelopes, which the police and FBI wouldn’t have noticed because no anthrax had yet been delivered via the mails at that time. (2) There are probably two people involved: the mentor and the disciple. While the mentor was establishing an alibi (because he would be a likely suspect), the disciple was mailing the letters. I created separate profiles and changed other sections in web page to reflect those thoughts.”

          Director Mueller had already dismissed the suggestion on 12/21/2001 as baloney. Ed had no factual basis in fact for alleging that he was the mentor of the mailer (who Ed called disciple).

          Michael thought anthrax was a virus, rather than a bacteria, until he was told otherwise. He was very exasperated for not getting even his most basic facts right. Ed’s imagined conspiracy had no basis in fact and Michael did not even know anyone in New Jersey. Ed just made that up like his First Grader Theory (which btw he based on 3 kids letters he found on the internet that used block lettering). Michael had neither the means, motive, modus operandi or opportunity.

        • DXer said


          Ed’s working theory for 7 years as to who did it had no sound basis.

          Ed reasoned:

          “The anthrax-terrorist probably obtained a quantity of anthrax long ago – before he was let go from his job with some military bioweapons lab – and he kept it around as evidence of how easily it can be obtained. It proves his case that anthrax can be obtained easily. He did it.

          The anthrax-terrorist may have sent some “threatening letters” from Indianapolis prior to September 11, in an attempt to wake up various journalists and news organizations. The New York Post wrote an article about those Pre-9-11 “hoax” letters. If those letters are indeed from the same person, the anthrax terrorist was almost certainly trying to scare people into thinking about protection from biowarfare and treaties to ban biowarfare. But no one became scared. Instead, they basically ignored him just as they ignored the whole issue.
          So, on September 18, 2001, the mentor arranged for a perfect alibi for himself while his disciple used some of the anthrax they had in their possession to send out REAL anthrax letters to the media – to Tom Brokaw, The New York Post, American Media in Florida and most likely Dan Rather and Peter Jennings.

          But again nothing happened! It took weeks before the first case appeared in the news, and then it was initially thought to be anthrax from natural causes! (The letters sent to AMI, CBS and ABC were literally discarded!) The anthrax-terrorist was probably wildly upset. He (and/or his disciple) was now refining some more anthrax to create a much more deadly variety that no one was going to interpret as being from “natural sources”.


          Note that it was Dr. Ivins who was debunking in his October 4, 2001 the CDC / Tommy T. suggestion that it was naturally occurring and due to drinking in a stream. (See mischaracterization of withheld email in Investigative Summary in a separate section devoted to the email).

          Moreover, note that Dr. Ivins knew that Stevens had died before the second mailing. Thus, Ed’s reasoning for 7 years is exculpatory of Dr. Ivins because Dr. Ivins knew that the first mailing had killed.

        • DXer said

          Ed for a decade has falsely claimed, without correction, that Senator Leahy has almost nothing to do with foreign policy.

          Ed writes:

          “Why would they pick Senator Patrick Leahy who has almost nothing to do with foreign policy?”

          Senator Leahy once demanded of Attorney General Gonzales that he wanted to know why he was targeted with letters containing anthrax. Ed ignores that is author of the “Leahy Law” that was the subject of the jihadists’ chief complaint. It is a provision that prohibits appropriations to military and security units if there is credible evidence of human rights violations — evidence of torture.

          The amendment has been interpreted to permit continued appropriations to security units under “extraordinary circumstances” — such as, say, the Global War on Terror. Senator Leahy separately was head of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, the panel in charge of aid to Egypt and Israel. The other Senator targeted was Senator Daschle, who as Senate majority leader had a key role in all appropriations. The media and public has superficially understood Leahy and Daschle as “liberals” without seeing things through the eyes of the head of Al Qaeda’s anthrax weaponization program, Ayman Zawahiri. That has led to a situation where the public has been less strident than they might have been in insisting that the United States do the one thing that might avoid additional anthrax — treat all detainees according to the Geneva Convention and cut off appropriations to the military and security units of any ally that continues to torture detainees.

          “Leahy Law” and Darkened Runways

          It was 1 a.m. in the morning on October 23, 2001. Parts of the airport runway were pitch black. Masked Pakistan Inter Services Intelligence (“ISI”) agents in a rented white Toyota sedan sped up with a shackled and blindfolded man. In the empty corner of the Karachi airport, a soldier with his face covered filmed the transfer of Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, age 27. Two weeks earlier a postal worker had died in the US from exposure to mailed anthrax. Authorities were rounding up the usual suspects — using a Gulfstream V jet registered to people in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. who existed only on paper.

          Mohammed had first come to Karachi in 1993 from Yemen’s capital city, Sana’a, and had recently been studying microbiology at the University of Karachi.

          After the September 11 attacks, Pakistani intelligence agents started checking on Arab university students in the area. Mohammed’s teachers told investigators that they had not seen him on campus since late August. Agents staked out his apartment in Karachi and nabbed him upon his return. Mohammed was wanted in connection with the bombing of the USS Cole. In 1996, Pakistani authorities officials had arrested Mohammed in connection with the November 1995 bombing of the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad. That attack was financed by the Canadian islamist and charity worker, Khadr and his charity Mercy International, a charity funded by Osama Bin Laden’s late brother-in-law Khalifa and founded by Saudi dissident Sheik Al-Hawali. Ayman Zawahiri, speaking for the military wing of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, known as the Vanguards of Conquest, claimed responsibility for the bombing.

          Mohammed was released without being charged. Mohammed re-enrolled at university in 1999. He was one of at least two microbiologist lab technicians who were rendered by the CIA. Saeed Mohammed was not particularly expert — and spent most of his time in Karachi procuring equipment. Washington announced Saeed had been rendered, but senior Pakistani officials continued to deny that the transfer had taken place.

          The scene would repeat itself at a different airport two months later with the rendition of Ahmed Agiza, former head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad before Zawahiri. Swedish officials prepared an expulsion order at 4 p.m. on December 18, 2001. Agiza, a 39-year old physician, was picked up on the street by 6 p.m. and he was in the air by 10 p.m. In a small room at the airport, six-hooded figures took Agiza and another prisoner and changed them into dark red overalls. The men cut off his clothes, without having to remove his handcuffs and leg irons. They inserted a suppository containing a sedative while putting on diapers. Then they hung him, blindfolded and hooded, in a harness in the plane. Dr. Agiza had been convicted in his absence in 1999, together with 106 others, by a military court in Cairo for membership in the Vanguards of Conquest (“Talal al-Fateh”), the military wing of the EIJ. The crew of the plane did not use the term “extraordinary rendition” — they just referred to the process as “snatches.” The Egyptian government had promised not to torture the suspects, but Agiza claims that they applied electric shocks through electrodes fastened to sensitive parts of his body — to his genitals, nipples, tongue, ear lobes, and underarms.

          These renditions were just two of the opening volleys in what would prove to be a 5 year effort to find the parties responsible for the letters containing anthrax sent to US Senators and media outlets. The anthrax was mailed shortly after the planes attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. In 1999, captured leaders of Zawahiri’s Vanguards of Conquest had said that Ayman was going to use weaponized anthrax against US targets in retaliation for the rendering of EIJ leaders and supporters to places like Cairo and Amman. The letter to the Senator Leahy, author of the “Leahy Law” that permitted continued appropriations to security units under “extraordinary circumstances”, read: “We have this anthrax. You die now. Are you afraid?”

          Tortured Logic

          The founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad Kamal Habib and a writer for the quarterly magazine of the Islamic Assembly of North America (“IANA”) told scholar Fawaz Gerges:

          “The prison years also radicalized al-shabab [young men] and set them on another violent journey. The torture left deep physical and psychological scars on jihadists and fueled their thirst for vengeance. Look at my hands — still spotted with the scars from cigarette burns nineteen years later. For days on end we were brutalized — our faces bloodied, our bodies broken with electrical shocks and other devices. The torturers aimed at breaking our souls and brainwashing us. They wanted to humiliate us and force us to betray the closest members of our cells.

          I spent sleepless nights listening to the screams of young men echoing from torture chambers. A degrading, dehumanizing experience. I cannot convey to you the rage felt by al-shabab who were tortured after Sadat’s assassination.”

          An August 29, 2001 opinion column on Islamway, the second most read site for english speaking muslims, illustrates that the role of “Leahy Law” was known by well-read islamists: “There is an intolerable contradiction between America’s between America’s professed policy of opposition to state-sponsored terrorism, exemplified by the Leahy Law, and the U.S. Congress’ continuing sponsorship of Israeli violence against Palestinians.” The article cited “References: CIFP 2001. “Limitations on Assistance to Security Forces: ‘The Leahy Law'” 4/9/01 (Washington, DC: Center for International Foreign Policy) Center for International Foreign Policy Accessed 8/28/01.Hocksteader, Lee 2001. ”

          In a videotape that circulated in the summer of 2001, Zawahiri said “In Egypt they put a lot of people in jails — some sentenced to be hanged. And in the Egyptian jails, there is a lot of killing and torture. All this happens under the supervision of America. America has a CIA station as well as an FBI office and a huge embassy in Egypt, and it closely follows what happens in that country. Therefore, America is responsible for everything that happens.”

          But to more fully appreciate why Leahy — a human rights advocate and liberal democrat — might have been targeted as a symbol, it is important to know that Senator Leahy has been the head of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, the panel in charge of aid to Egypt and Israel. In addition to the Senate majority leader, anthrax was mailed to the position symbolic of the 50 billion in appropriations that has been given to Israel since 1947 (and the equally substantial $2 billion annually in aid that has been keeping Mubarak in power in Egypt and the militant islamists out of power). In an audiotape received by al-Jazeera and published in October 2002, Zawahiri again pointed to the weapons bought by US appropriations: “As for America, it must expect to be treated the same way that it has committed crimes, like the destruction of the Palestinians’ homes by the Jews using US weapons and like the murder of Muhammad Al-Durra and other Palestinian children by the Jews with US weapons. Then the American people will curse Bush and his administration dead or alive due to the extremely high price they are repaid with.”

          That aid goes to the core of Al Qaeda’s complaint against the United States. (The portion going to Egypt and Israel constitutes, by far, the largest portion of US foreign aid, and most of that is for military and security purposes.) Pakistan is a grudging ally in the “war against terrorism” largely due to the US Aid it now receives in exchange for that cooperation. The press in Pakistan newspapers regularly reported on protests arguing that FBI’s reported 12 agents in Pakistan in 2002 were an affront to its sovereignty. There was a tall man, an Urdu-speaking man, and a woman — all chain-smokers — who along with their colleagues were doing very important work in an unsupportive, even hostile, environment. The US agents — whether CIA or FBI or US Army — caused quite a stir in Pakistan along with the Pakistani security and intelligence officials who accompanied them.

          Blanket Disregard Of “Leahy Law” Prohibition Of Torture After 9/11

          Within a couple weeks after September 11, a report in the Washington Post and then throughout the muslim world explained that the President sought a waiver that would allow military assistance to once-shunned nations. The militant islamists who had already been reeling from the extradition of 70 “brothers”, would now be facing much more of the same. President Bush asked Congress for authority to waive all existing restrictions on U.S. military assistance and exports for the next five years to any country where the aid would help the fight against international terrorism. The waiver would include those nations who were currently unable to receive U.S. military aid because of their sponsorship of terrorism (such as Syria and Iran) or because of their nuclear weapons programs (such as Pakistan). In mid-March 2003, Washington waived sanctions imposed in 1999 paving the way for release in economic aid to Pakistan. Billions more would be sent to Egypt, Israel and other countries involved in the “war against terrorism.”

          In late September 2001, the Washington Post quoted Leahy: “We all want to be helpful, and I will listen to what they have in mind.” The article noted that he was chairman of both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, which were considering the legislation. “But we also want to be convinced that what is being proposed is sound, measured and necessary and not merely impulsive.”

          The options being considered in response to the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington included potential cooperation with virtually every Middle Eastern and South and Central Asian nation near Afghanistan. “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists” would be the only test for foreign aid. The “Leahy Law” plays a key role in the secret “rendering” of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (Al Qaeda) operatives to countries like Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Algeria where they are allegedly tortured. Richard Clarke, counterterrorism czar during the Clinton Administration, has quoted Vice-President Gore saying: “Of course it’s a violation of international law, that’s why it’s a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass.”

          Although humanitarian in its intent, the Leahy Law permits continued appropriations to military and security units who conduct torture in the event of “extraordinary circumstances.”

          In an interview broadcast on al-Jazeera television on October 7, 2001 (October 6 in the US) — about when the second letter saying “Death to America'” and “Death to Israel” was mailed — Ayman Zawahiri echoed a familiar refrain sounded by Bin Laden: “O people of the U.S., can you ask yourselves a question: Why all this enmity for the United States and Israel? *** Your government supports the corrupt governments in our countries.”

          A month after 9/11, late at night , a charter flight from Cairo touched down at the Baku airport. An Egyptian, arrested by the Azerbaijani authorities on suspicions of having played a part in the September 11 attack was brought on board. His name was kept secret. That same night the plane set off in the opposite direction. Much of the Amerithrax story has happened at night with no witnesses, with the rendering of Saeed Mohammed merely one example. Zawahiri claims that there is a US intelligence bureau inside the headquarters of the Egyptian State Security Investigation Department that receives daily reports on the number of detainees and those detainees that are released. At the time Ayman Zawahiri was getting his biological weapons program in full swing, his own brother Mohammed was picked up in the United Arab Emirates. He was secretly rendered to Egyptian security forces and sentenced to death rendered in the Albanian returnees case.

          Throughout 2001, the Egyptian islamists were wracked by extraditions and renditions. CIA Director Tenet once publicly testified that there had been 70 renditions prior to 9/11. At the same time a Canadian judge was finding on October 5, 2001 that EIJ shura member Mahmoud Mahjoub was a member of the Vanguards of Conquest and would be denied bail, Bosnian authorities announced on October 6, 2001 they had handed over three Egyptians to Cairo who had been arrested in July. In Uruguay, a court authorized the extradition to Egypt of a man wanted in Egypt for his alleged role in the 1997 Luxor attack. Ahmed Agiza, the leader of the Vanguards of Conquest (which can be viewed as an offshoot of Jihad), was handed over by Sweden in December 2001. Al Qaeda’s military commander, Atef, and Dr. Ayman Zawahiri, both took these renditions personally. They were ultimately in charge of who would be targeted with anthrax.

          When Doing the Right Thing Might Avoid More Anthrax

          The commentators who suggest that Al Qaeda would have had no motivation to send weaponized anthrax to Senators Daschle and Leahy as symbolic targets — because they are liberal — are mistaken. The main goal of Dr. Zawahiri is to topple President Mubarak. He views the US Aid as the chief obstacle and is indifferent to this country’s labels of conservative and liberal. Having a humane foreign policy — and being firm with our allies on the issue of torture — might just help avoid the next 9/11. Or as Senator Leahy has said: “Moral leadership in defense of democracy and human rights is vital to what we stand for in the world. Acts of terrorism are violations of human rights. Now is the time to show what sets us apart from those who attack us.”

        • DXer said

          #6 Ed for the longest time — without a factual basis — imagined that hoax letters from Indianapolis were related.

          Like the First Grader Theory that he came up with after someone suggested in a newsgroup — and then he looked at 3 pages of kids’ letter on the internet — he urged the importance of the Indianapolis hoax letters.

          In bold red ink he cried out in what would be a familiar refrain:

          “The non-anthrax mailing from Indianapolis could be highly significant, yet it seems to be totally ignored! The threats would be important, the writing would be important, the paper would be important, everything would be important! But virtually nothing has been reported! We can only hope that it’s so important that the FBI has good reasons to keep secret nearly everything about them.”

        • DXer said

          #7 Ed without basis posited that the perpetrated had attended the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention in Geneva.

          “The A3 size is perfect for drawing paper and might make a nice gift to bring home for a child if you’ve been to a function such as the “Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention” in Geneva, Switzerland.”

        • DXer said


          Ed’s Ivins Theory — and acceptance of the FBI’s false claim that Ivins used the photocopier (contradicted by its own report on the toner!) — overlooks the size of the paper that he previously wrote about.

          “If the measurements of the Post letter are somewhat accurate, then the Tom Brokaw letter appears to be approximately 11-2/3 inches high by 11 inches wide. That means it is most likely a trimmed piece of A3 paper. A3 is exactly the same height as A4 but twice as wide. International Standard Paper Sizes are used in many places in the world.

          Then I measured the letter sent to Senator Tom Daschle. I created rulers and placed them beside the Daschle letter as seen here to the left.

          This certainly doesn’t prove that the Daschle letter is 11-2/3 by 11-2/3 inches, but it definitely seems to demonstrate that the letter is almost perfectly square. The right edge seems irregular as if it was cut to make it seem perfectly square. That indicates that it could have begun as a sheet of paper of A3 size.

          The odd sizes of the square letters is made more odd by the fact that so little is made of it by the FBI, and the media either doesn’t seem to even notice or they provide totally incorrect information about it.”


        • DXer said

          #11 Ed’s “profile” of the “anthrax supplier” was as wildly speculative and baseless as his profiler of who he called the “refiner/mailer.”

          Ed writes:

          “Profiles of the anthrax terrorists:

          The unidentified “anthrax terrorist” is most likely two people: the “supplier” who obtained the Ames anthrax from a government lab and the “refiner/mailer” (plus, perhaps, an uninvolved child).

          Profile of the anthrax supplier:

          1. The supplier probably took the Ames anthrax from a government facility.
          2. The supplier was probably fired from that facility. ..
          4. The supplier is almost certainly unmarried.
          5. The supplier is a loner with few friends – if any.
          6. The supplier is disgruntled and uncomfortable working with others.
          7. The supplier probably uses phrases like “I keep telling them, but they don’t listen.”
          8. The supplier doesn’t care much about “rules”.
          9. The supplier believes that a free exchange of information is key to advancements in science.
          10. The supplier may have had knowledge needed by the refiner/mailer.
          11. The supplier is probably in his late 40s or early 50s.
          12. The supplier probably lost his security clearance as a result of his actions.”

        • DXer said


          For 7 years, Ed thought that the FBI suspected the Wisconsin bowler and his imagined New Jersey accomplice. The thought for the next half decade the FBI was just trying to building its case.

          “Assuming that the analysis on this web site is at least partially correct and that a scientist working at some professional lab in New Jersey managed to refine the anthrax in his lab on evenings and weekends:

          … It seems, therefore, that the examination of the spores and the hunt for everything that can be learned from the spores is not primarily intended to find the anthrax terrorist. It’s difficult to see how knowing the source of the spores can pinpoint a single individual at that installation. But such information can help create a solid legal case that cannot be lost to crafty defense lawyers pointing out remote possibilities and uninvestigated areas that raise “reasonable doubt”.

          Which, of course, implies that they have a very good circumstantial case against who did it. But they can’t go to court until they have pre-defeated whatever defense the anthrax terrorist’s attorneys are likely to muster.”

          Ed Lake
          May 11, 2002
          Updated Aug. 27, 2002

        • DXer said


          Ed without basis has argued that the FBI did not check the USAMRIID Bacteriology Division photocopier. Ed has no factual basis for his claim. Ed wrote at the time:

          “January 15, 2002: … Another interesting story indicates that the FBI is hunting for copy machines that could have been used.

          The article stated:

          “The authorities clearly still are investigating possible university links,” said Richard H. Ebright, the Rutgers biologist who told of the agents’ visit. “It’s hard to imagine that they would be expending so much effort at universities if they had settled on a suspect in a military lab or military contractor.”

          Dr. Ebright is a protein biochemist and faculty member at the Waksman Institute of Microbiology, a research arm of Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J. As the crow flies, Piscataway is 27 miles from Trenton, where the tainted letters were mailed.

          The Waksman Institute has 16 resident faculty members, 5 nonresident faculty members, 39 postdoctoral researchers, 17 technical assistants and 31 graduate students. A main goal of the institute is fostering research into microbe genetics.

          Dr. Ebright said agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation ran tests on all photocopiers in Rutgers microbiology buildings — several dozen machines, including his own.

          Joseph Blumberg, a Rutgers science spokesman, said the university had no stocks of anthrax bacteria.

          In Washington, the F.B.I. had no comment on whether the photocopy tests were being run at places other than Rutgers, but emphasized that the technique was a standard one.

          Forensic experts say that copying machines have signatures, especially in the makeup of their inks.

          The F.B.I., in its guidelines for document examinations, says that the make and model of a suspect machine can sometimes be identified if investigators can obtain fresh copies to compare with the crime evidence. The guidelines call for at least 30 copies from each machine, 10 with a document in place, 10 with no document and the cover down and 10 with no document and the cover up.”

        • DXer said

          Additional source:

        • DXer said


          Ed’s profile lacked a sound basis in all respects (though it illustrates the parlor game nature of profiles).

          “A Profile of the anthrax terrorist:

          The unidentified anthrax terrorist is most likely part of a team of two people: a “mentor” and a “disciple” (plus, perhaps, an uninvolved child). The “mentor” could be the Milwaukee scientist, since evidence indicates he knew about the Sept. 18 mailing beforehand, but has a perfect alibi proving he didn’t actually participate. There’s no point in profiling someone who has already been identified, so the profile is only for the “disciple”:

          1. The terrorist is probably in his 40s.
          2. The terrorist may currently work in the health industry or in academia.
          3. The terrorist probably lives in New York City or within commuting distance of NYC.
          4. The terrorist may have traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana, earlier in the year.
          5. The terrorist was in Trenton, New Jersey, on Sept. 17 or 18 and on October 8 or 9, 2001.
          6. The terrorist probably reads the New York Post.
          7. The terrorist probably subscribes to cable.
          8. The terrorist probably watches Bill O’Reilly on the Fox News Channel.
          9. The terrorist probably lives alone.
          12. The terrorist thinks that voting is a waste of time. If he belonged to a political party, it would be the Fascist Party.
          13. The terrorist probably has a bumper sticker on his car that reads something like “Clean Up The Environment! Kill a Liberal!”
          14. The terrorist may be a manic-depressive.
          15. The terrorist may be divorced.
          16. The terrorist may have a small child and visitation rights with the child.
          17. The terrorist may have used his child to address the envelopes and to write the letters.
          18. The terrorist’s child is probably home schooled.”

        • DXer said


          Ed wrote:

          “Mystery #5: It now seems fairly clear that there could be two people behind the anthrax mailings: a mentor and a disciple.”

          Ed had no factual basis for his speculation that there were two people behind the anthrax mailings (in addition to the child).

        • DXer said

          Ken tells me that although he originally favored the suggestion that a spraydryer was used, in his Biohazard 2 draft he posits a fluid bed dryer. He told me in 2003 that the FBI suspected Ali Al-Timimi. Both Dr. Patrick and Dr. Alibek — who I certainly agree had nothing to do with the anthrax mailings — consulted with Dr. Crockett on her thesis about anthrax as a weapon which addressed the reason for the silicon signature. Dr. Patrick of course consulted for the FBI.

          Kathryn Crockett, Ken Alibek’s assistant — just a couple doors down from Ali Al-Timimi — addressed these issues in her 2006 thesis, “A historical analysis of Bacillus anthracis as a biological weapon and its application to the development of nonproliferation and defense strategies.” She expressed her special thanks to bioweaponeering experts Dr. Ken Alibek and Dr. Bill Patrick. Dr. Patrick consulted with the FBI. Dr. Crockett successfully defended the thesis before a panel that included USAMRIID head and Ames strain researcher Charles Bailey, Ali Al-Timimi’s other Department colleague. In 2001 he said he did not want to discuss silica because he did not want to give terrorists any ideas. Oops! Too late. The scientist coordinating with the 911 imam and Bin Laden’s Sheik was 15 feet away.

          Dr. Crockett in her PhD thesis says that scientists who analyzed the powder through viewing micrographs or actual contact are divided over the quality of the powder. She cites Gary Matsumoto’s “Science” article in summarizing the debate. Dr. Ivins, btw, graded the Daschle product a “B.” Leahy product got an “A” and NY Post got a “C”. His official report is in the record. Dr. Crockett says the FBI has vacillated on silica. The AFIP data, if released, would point to the high level of silica in the first batch of letters.

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

          Or as Dr. Michael told National Geographic (using the word “weaponized” to narrowly refer to aiding dispersability) he does not think the silica was used for that purpose of “weaponization”, whether under the historical Dugway method from the 1990s or otherwise. Michael told FOX News, “I don’t think this exonerates (Ivins) at all.” He added, “I don’t think it’s not enough to say that he did it, as well.”

          One military scientist who has made anthrax simulants described the GMU patents to me as relating to a silicon encapsulation technique which serves to increase the viability of a wide range of pathogens. More broadly, a DIA analyst once commented to me that the internal debate seemed relatively inconsequential given the circumstantial evidence — overlooked by so many people — that US-based supporters of Al Qaeda are responsible for the mailings. (Most of Dr. Ivins’ colleagues have thought Al Qaeda was responsible.)

          “Anonymous Scientist”comments:

          “The REAL reason that the NYP analysis is not being provided is because it is massive. The % of silicon is more than 10% – in fact it’s above to 50%. The NYP sample is actually MOSTLY silicon”

          The AFIP lab results (the results that the FBI refused to provide to Sandia and Gary refuses to share) seem to demonstrate that the silica was massive. I provided the data but Gary disputes the accuracy of the data. Dr. Michael, too, expressed skepticism to me privately. Once released, it can then be meaningfully addressed by the Sandia scientists. That is the entire purpose of Anonymous Scientist’s FOIA request on the issue and I wish him well in that litigation. In the past, they were making inferences and conclusions about whether the silica would be useful in making mailed anthrax — and whether it would be highly probative — that go far beyond both their field of expertise and the data apparently available to them. I find Peter Setlow’s commentary on the recent Japanese article about silicon encapsulation to be thoughtful and would have preferred that he address the issue before the NAS. I appreciate that Sandia’s powerpoint and presentation was sound given that it was limited to the narrow issue of the location of the silicon.

          I respect the government view, if it is the government’s view, that these are not issues that should be discussed public necessarily. Outsiders, in my opinion, need only enough information to know whether “they got the right guy.” Presently, most people think the FBI did not — and the FBI’s interference with USAMRIID’s FOIA production has only served as Exhibit A in that argument.
          But from where I sit, for all I know, it is the FBI’s Dr. Bannan, formerly the collections scientist at the American Type Culture Collection (“ATCC”) at GMU which sponsored Al-Timimi’s program, who is supporting the decision to withhold the AFIP data. Given the government assures us that it does not relate to “weaponization,” then it would seem that there is no reason not to release it subject to whatever redactions are warranted.

          Once it is released, experts like Peter Setlow can consider the source of the reason for the silica such as whether it was putting virulent Ames soil (silica) suspension such as the FBI scientist John Ezzell did in 1996 for DARPA when he made dry powdered anthrax at Ft. Detrick. Or we can turn to the “Microdroplet Cell Culture” patent filed by Ali Al-Timimi’s Discovery Hall colleagues at the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense and see if there is a connection. The silica would be in the culture medium used to concentrate the anthrax and then would be removed by repeated centrifugation.

          Or the experts can explore the other hypotheses relating to the reason for the Silicon Signature.

          I’m not a scientist which is why it seems that the data and pictures need to be released so that we can have experts like the Center for Biodefense’s Sergeui Popov and the government’s John Kiel review it. If we learned anything from 9/11, it is that there are times that information needs to be shared so that people can connect the dots. This is such a time. Any one with a conflict of interest should recuse himself from the particular aspect of Amerithrax.

          As for the defenders of Dr. Ivins, I have to focus their attention again on the record of flask 1029. Who altered the record? If he did, wouldn’t he be indictable as an accessory after the fact and for obstruction of justice? And might alteration be motivated simply by a failure to keep proper records, or record a transfer as required by mid-1997 regulations? He specifically emailed his superior and said that he was concerned that his records would not square up with the inventory. He was told to shut up, not to repeat what he had heard at a party about the FBI’s line of inquiry — that everything was under control. Well, we’re not interested in whether someone with something to hide had everything under control. It certainly proved not to be under control for Dr. Ivins.

          So whodunnit? Let’s start with an easy question. Who told Dr. Ivins to shut up about it — that everything was under control? And why was Dr. Ivins concerned that there would be material missing from his inventory — to which his superior advised there would then be reason or justification for the missing Ames.

        • Good WMD-PC Diversity is you try to prevent any group from being victims of WMD.

          Bad PC diversity is you don’t exclude any group from your WMD labs.

          Our govt follows a Greshams Law of PC-Diversity, Bad PC Diversity drives out good.

      • Ike Solem said

        Once it became clear that the U.S. biological threat assesssment program was the most likely source of the anthrax letters, a massive disinformation campaign was initiated to cover this fact up. The persecution of Hatfill and Ivins by the FBI was critically important, as it directed attention away from the fact that the biological threat assessment program had breached international treaties and facilitated the worst bioterrorism event in U.S. history.

        The scale of the cover-up implies either that senior government figures were involved in these attacks, possibly going all the way up to the offices of Cheney and Rumsfeld, and that attempting to create a rationale for attacking Iraq – as well as for expanding biowarfare research – were the real motives of the culprits.

        • DXer said

          I agree with you Ike. But you gloss over the details.

          The lead anthrax threat assessment person for DIA was at the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense — and about 4 inches away from Ali Al-Timimi. They shared a maildrop and fax number.

          Al-Timimi, according to his defense counsel, was coordinating with Anwar Aulaqi, the 911 imam.

          So how long should it have taken the Administration that there was a problem?

          About 9:30 a.m. on 9/11/2001?

          Al-Timimi, serendipitously, had been Andrew Card’s former assistant for 2 months in the 1990s and had recently received a letter of commendation from the White House for work for the Navy while at SRA. Source: old defense committee webpage.

          Warrantless NSA wiretapping without the Attorney General knowing started on or about October 7, 2001.

          Now talk about your compartmentalization! The White House kept all but 2 people at the DOJ from knowing anything about the NSA wiretapping.


    “June 30, 1999 DOJ OPR issues final report; concludes Potts, Coulson, Walsh, Harp, and Mathews committed misconduct; report sent to AAG Colgate for disciplinary decisions; Colgate assigns JMD Assistant Director Jarcho to review matter”

    Search Van Harp Ruby Ridge for more.

    “On October 15, 2001, FBI Director Robert Mueller appointed Van Harp, a 32-year FBI veteran, head of the anthrax attacks investigation.”

    History Commons.

    Search Van Harp anthrax 2001.

  21. DXer said

    A URL with about 50 powerpoints on the substantive issues.

  22. DXer said


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