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

* Does this interview statement describe the DARPA research with John Hopkins-Applied Physics Lab involving testing mass spectrometer detector for which John Ezzell made a dried powder?

Posted by DXer on April 7, 2010

The FBI’s case against Dr. Bruce Ivins has been demonstrated to be bogus. So what really happened? And why? I offer one “fictional” scenario in my novel CASE CLOSED, judged by many readers, including a highly respected official in the U.S. Intelligence Community, as “quite plausible.”

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

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for related information, see … http://www.blurb.com/books/1204466

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14 Responses to “* Does this interview statement describe the DARPA research with John Hopkins-Applied Physics Lab involving testing mass spectrometer detector for which John Ezzell made a dried powder?”

  1. DXer said

    This DARPA project for which the FBI scientist made a dried powder out of Ames from Flask 1029 included aerosol work.

  2. DXer said

    In an interview of another USAMRIID employee on February 15, 2005 (279A-WF-222936- USAMRIID serial 1103), it was reported that certain employees at USAMRIID were considering a proposal to being using dried Ames powder for animal challenges. IVINS was questioned by the interviewing Agents concerning his knowledge of this proposal and any discussions related thereto.

    IVINS said he was not aware of any planning meetings or discussions concerning any proposal to switch from using anthrax in a liquid slurry form to a dried powdered form for animal challenges. IVINS related that to the best of his knowledge, such a switch would have been contrary to USAMRIID policy. IVINS explained that _________ had distributed a letter to all researchers immediately after the fall 2001 anthrax attacks stating that no powder versions of any select agent were to be made without his express permission. IVINS believes this was also a directive of the Fort Detrick commanding General. IVINS knew of no one at USAMRIID who produced dried anthrax after the fall 2001 attacks. IVINS said he would be suprrised to learn that such a proposal had actually been broached. As an aside, he claimed that he gets “really pissed off” by scientists who wan to make anything that could be used to kill ormake people sick.

    IVINS likewise advised that he had no first-hand personal knowledge of anyone producing dried anthrax powder prior to the fall 2001 attacks. However, IVINS said he recently became aware that ______________________________ had produced dried irradiated anthrax spores for a project with __________________________________________________________________. IVINS said he learned this by reading a USAMRIID response to a FOIA request. IVINS believed that the dried product produced by _________ was first irradiated in a liquid slurry before being dried.

    IVINS further related that USAMRIID ________________________ once brought IVINS a “national security sample” of what was believed to be powdered Bacillus anthrax which he asked IVINS to culture and test. The powdered sample was givein in a vial labeled either “IA” or “I1.” _____________ represented to IVINS that this suspected anthrax sample had come from Iraq. IVINS said that this particular sample was catalogued at USAMRIID as a “diagnostic agent” to avoid labeling it as Bacillus anthracis.

    By email dated April 26, 2002, when he went to find the sample, he couldn’t.

    He wrote: “________ Friday night I was looking for a strain that I had frozen down for _______ It is the “I-1” strain. It is the “I-1″ strain. It was originally in small freezer tubes in a blue rack in the chest (not upright) minus 70 freezer in the B3 hall. I couldn’t find the tubes anywhere. The strain is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, and we need to find it. Do either of you have any idea where the tubes are? ____ when you were doing the boxes and moving stocks, do you remember them? If not, ____ could you please search the upright minus 70 for them? I may have put the tubes in another box or container, but I couldn’t find them in the new boxes you made.

    Thanks.
    -Bruce”

    Dr. Ezzell advises me that he is in agreement with Ivins in that he knew of no plans to test dried spores in animals. “As for dried spores that [his] lab produced, the spores were sterilized using gamma irradiation before being freeze- dried. The spores were to be used by DARPA to test biothreat detection systems using mass spectrometry technology.”

    • DXer said

      • DXer said

        Science 7 February 1997:
        Vol. 275. no. 5301, pp. 744 – 746
        DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5301.744

        Too Radical for NIH? Try DARPA
        Eliot Marshall

        Alarmed by evidence that terrorists may exploit biological weapons, the Internet’s sponsor is moving into a brand-new field with some serious money

        You have a radically new idea for fighting pathogens that your colleagues are dubious about–a scheme, say, to program blood cells to remove viruses from the bloodstream in minutes. Where would you go for funding? To the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the big bank of biomedical research? Perhaps. But NIH would ask a committee of peers to evaluate your idea, and peers can be brutal about radical concepts. For the same reason, you would not expect much enthusiasm from private charities or from public health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But there is one federal outfit that says it loves revolutionary ideas, and it has just begun spending millions of dollars on pathogen research: the Pentagon’s wunderkind, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)–best known as the originator of the Internet.
        For 3 decades, DARPA has been bankrolling far-out engineering and electronics projects, and about 2 years ago, its leaders got interested in biology. Now, they are talking about spending serious money on basic and applied science projects to protect the military–and maybe civilians–from biohazards. According to Jane Alexander, deputy director of DARPA’s basic sciences division and an electronics expert, the agency aims to fund about $40 million to $50 million worth of biodefense research this year. By 1999, DARPA may be spending $100 million, and after that, she says, “we may aim at a $200-million-a-year effort.”

        That would be a good chunk of DARPA’s budget, now $2 billion a year. The commitment reflects the concern of DARPA’s new director, Larry Lynn, about the risk of biological attack by “rogue governments” or terrorist groups (see p. 745). Lynn, who majored in physics as an undergraduate and has spent his career managing defense projects for the military and industry, was appointed by President Clinton to take over DARPA in 1995. He set out to reorganize the place quickly, and in 1996, DARPA emerged a smaller, more focused agency, with newly defined objectives. And there was something entirely new on the list: basic biology, a field DARPA had never funded before. Lynn told Congress last year that “biological warfare defense” is fourth of the top nine military problems DARPA wants to tackle and that “biological systems” are among the top nine technologies the agency has targeted for development.

        New focus. Larry Lynn has made biology a priority.

        …Outsiders have also been swept up: “I feel the enthusiasm,” says Stanford University biologist Stanley Falkow, current president of the American Society of Microbiology, who has served as one of DARPA’s advisers from academia. “I think we’d be mistaken if we didn’t address” the threat of assault by biological weapons, he says, both as a military issue and a public health risk. But Falkow, who says he is doing “a little work” himself with DARPA support, is hedging his bets on the likelihood of success. The ideas DARPA is funding, he says, “sound wonderful,” but no one knows how well they’re going to work.

        Outside researchers add that agency wizards–accustomed to quick-turnaround engineering projects–may be unrealistic about what can be done in biology on a short schedule. DARPA is “quite serious for the moment,” says one scientific adviser, but he worries about what will happen if the excitement passes. In engineering and computers, says Michael Donnenberg–a microbiologist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, who advises DARPA–the agency tends to support an experiment at one lab for a couple of years, then move the experiment to another place. In contrast, says Donnenberg, NIH-funded researchers “are used to 5-year cycles … and then getting refunded.” DARPA’s hands-on management style may also ruffle biologists, he says.

        DARPA officials acknowledge that they are taking a big gamble. But one staffer says, with a touch of hubris, that this is exactly why DARPA is betting on “only the best” advisers and ideas.

        ***

        Star Wars of biology

        Lynn set DARPA on this new course, he says, because biological threats are becoming “more acceptable” as weapons of terror. “Probably they are next to nuclear weapons in the magnitude” of damage they might cause, while being “much easier to build and dispense, with relatively rudimentary training,” he adds. While the Department of Defense is already spending “a fair amount of money” to cope with “near-term” issues–developing better protective gear and refining vaccines–this work tends to be agent-specific and limited to immediate worries, Lynn says. DARPA likes bigger challenges.

        “We are concerned with a much broader range of agents than you would think of today,” says Lynn. DARPA is especially concerned about genetic engineering, and it has set an extremely ambitious goal–reminiscent of the Star Wars antimissile program. Lynn says the aim quite simply is to “eliminate biological weapons as a serious threat to military activities.” Along the way, DARPA may inspire researchers to develop products useful to the civilian economy, like new antibiotics.

        DARPA prides itself on moving fast, and it has already blitzed into pathogen studies and immune-system research. It has recruited a blue-ribbon panel of academic advisers that includes eight members of the National Academy of Sciences and is chaired by the president emeritus of Rockefeller University, Joshua Lederberg. Lynn himself has been visiting biotech companies–“a wild lot,” he says, adding that “when you mix them with a funding organization that’s willing to play wild, a lot of excitement gets generated.” DARPA last year issued two invitations to scientists to submit proposals for research contracts totaling $50 million. It received more than 250 responses, and is now signing contracts with the winners, which include both biotech ventures and nonprofits.
        ***

        In other project categories, DARPA is gearing up to support the development of quick sensors to detect and identify biological threats,

        ***

        Skeptic academics
        Jones is optimistic about developing these ideas into real products. At the same time, he adds that “I understand there is skepticism” in the academic community, but suggests that it exists in part because “there has not been the equivalent of a DARPA in the biological life sciences” until now. People may not appreciate how much can be accomplished when money is applied in a focused effort.

        • Anonymous said

          “Jones is optimistic about developing these ideas into real products. At the same time, he adds that “I understand there is skepticism” in the academic community, but suggests that it exists in part because “there has not been the equivalent of a DARPA in the biological life sciences” until now. People may not appreciate how much can be accomplished when money is applied in a focused effort.”

          Skepticism in the academic community is NOT because of a DARPA equivalent in Life Sciences but it is due to the fact that DARPA in its present form cannot accomplish much. Above all DARPA needs novel leadership; not the kind that stale government can now provide.

      • DXer said

        As an example of this innovative DARPA funded biodefense work, see, “Mass Spectrometry of Breath for the Detection of Infection and Exposure in the 2004 JH bulletin.

        Mass spectrometry of breath for the diagnosis of infection and exposure

        Jackman, J.a , Moss, O.b c d

        a U.S. Army Med. Res. Inst. Infect. D.
        b Los Alamos National Laboratory
        c Battelle Pac. Northwest Laboratory
        d CIIT Centers for Health Research, Durham, NC

        Abstract

        The inability to distinguish among people infected by agents of biological warfare, those infected by more benign agents, and those who simply perceive relevant signs and symptoms has been a major impediment to the rapid resolution of biological warfare attacks. The initial signs and symptoms reported for infection with biological warfare agents mimic those of more common illnesses such as the flu; therefore, an attack of this ilk could go unrecognized initially, wasting valuable resources and causing major health and economic impacts. One means to reduce or alleviate the threat posed by the use of biological warfare agents would be to quickly determine the extent of actual infection. Here we describe our approach to developing a rapid, sensitive, and reliable method to diagnose pulmonary infection presymptomatically using mass spectrometry.

    • DXer said

      I should add further that Dr. Ezzell advises me that he doesn’t about the “I-1 strain” and doesn’t recall a rack of tubes labeled as “I-1”.

  3. DXer said

    I was mistaken in my earlier repeated references (in response to either Old Atlantic or Ike) to Ivins grading of Leahy an A, Daschle a B and Post a C.

    He graded Daschle an “A” and it was Leahy he graded a “B”. My bad.

    Source: 3/31/2005 interview statement

  4. DXer said

    Who took the dried powdered sample that Dr. Ivins was given for testing — the “national security sample” — out of Dr. Ivins freezer?

  5. DXer said

    Applied and Environmental Microbiology, October 1999, p. 4313-4319, Vol. 65, No. 10
    0099-2240/99/$04.00+0
    Copyright © 1999, American Society for Microbiology. All rights reserved.

    Identification of Bacillus Spores by Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization-Mass Spectrometry

    Yetrib Hathout,1,* Plamen A. Demirev,1 Yen-Peng Ho,1 Jonathan L. Bundy,1 Victor Ryzhov,1 Lisa Sapp,1 James Stutler,2 Joany Jackman,3 and Catherine Fenselau1
    Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 207421; GeoCenters, Inc., Fort Detrick, Maryland 217022; and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, D.C.3

    Received 27 April 1999/Accepted 16 July 1999
    Unique patterns of biomarkers were reproducibly characterized by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI)-mass spectrometry and were used to distinguish Bacillus species members from one another. Discrimination at the strain level was demonstrated for Bacillus cereus spores. Lipophilic biomarkers were invariant in Bacillus globigii spores produced in three different media and in B. globigii spores stored for more than 30 years. The sensitivity was less than 5,000 cells deposited for analysis. Protein biomarkers were also characterized by MALDI analysis by using spores treated briefly with corona plasma discharge. Protein biomarkers were readily desorbed following this treatment. The effect of corona plasma discharge on the spores was examined.

    ***
    Since the genus Bacillus contains Bacillus thuringiensis, an industrially important nonpathogenic pesticide, Bacillus cereus, a noninfectious food pathogen, and Bacillus anthracis, a lethal infectious pathogenic bacterium, rapid discrimination of the spores from each other is necessary for effective intervention and treatment of human disease. In this study we evaluated matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI)-mass spectrometry to determine whether it can be used to directly characterize Bacillus spores with speed, reliability, and sensitivity.

    • DXer said

      We thank …John Ezzell and Terry Abshire for providing facilities and advice for the spore viability assays performed at USAMRIID, Frederick, Md.

  6. DXer said

    I believe 40 ml was withdrawn for the JH/APL mass spec on 8/26/2000 Source: FBI’s expanded itemization of withdrawals from Flask 1029

    Is this an interview of Joany Jackman? (She left USAMRIID, where she had worked with Dr. Ezzell, for JH-APL in 2000).

    • DXer said

      According to the email Bruce sent Patricia Fellows, he had heard the closest dry powder to the attack anthrax was a dry powder John Ezzell had made. See FoxNews report and Anonymous Scientist’s enlargement of redacted text. I spoke to Dr. Ezzell in July 2009. His friend was the SRI VP in 2001 and paved the way for the call by explaining my view that Ayman Zawahiri just outsmarted US biodefense and succeeded in using the weapons of his enemy (as commanded by the hadiths). Dr. Ezzell told me he was under a gag order and that his phone was likely wiretapped. I told him “pshawww…” Dr. Ezzell confirmed to me that he had made the dry powder at the request of DARPA and given to John Hopkins. He emphasized that it had been gamma irradiated and that testing confirmed that it was dead.

      Now, if you will, turn to the document that shows Dr. Ivins used virulent Ames from Flask 1029 for a DARPA project in August 26, 2000 and it was examined at John Hopkins. Was this made into a dry powder before being examined? The DARPA-funded, former Zawahiri associate working alongside Bruce Ivins with virulent Ames reportedly tested his decontamination agent at John Hopkins which is why I am curious. (I don’t know the dates).

      At the time, Dr. Ezzell worked, btw, for FBI’s hazardous materials group, Dr. Ezzell was head of the Special Pathogens testing lab. The FBI would bring him hoax letters and he would test them. The FBI agents were impressed he drove a Harley motorcycle. Dr. Ezzell says that testing showed that the irradiation had been successful. (It would have been gamma radiation). (We saw in the incident involving the Ames Patricia Fellows sent to Oakland Children’s Hospital that sometimes Ames thought to be dead is actually live). So if the FBI find it awkward to talk about, it might be because it was the FBI’s scientist who (according to what Dr. Ivins had heard) made the closest product. But with the right encouragement, Dr. Ezzell is by no means unduly defensive (because he knows he was just doing what he was asked as part of the legitimate requirements of his job). The FBI scientists should just get over their awkwardness in addressing it if they are going to be persuasive in laying the crime off on Dr. Ivins. The public will want to know (1) why DARPA asked for it (it appears that they asked for it to test a mass spectrometry detector), (2) what method generally was used (and would that explain the Silicon Signature), (3) who had access or might have used a similar method. etc.

      My curiosity there stems from the fact that the DARPA-funded former Zawahiri associate working alongside Bruce Ivins with virulent Ames also tested his decontamination agent at Edgewood in 2001 reportedly. As Dr. Ezzell explains, he was asked to make the product by DARPA.
      We need to press on and get at the facts notwithstanding the fact that some FBI scientists were in the same hazardous materials unit when the dry powder was made and notwithstanding the fact that the former collection scientist for American Type Culture Collection (at GMU) which co-sponsored Ali Al-Timimi’s program, is leading the FBI’s science effort (along with the fellow who headed the Navy’s biodefense effort). These scientists need to be sensitive to the issue of conflict of interest and be sure to recuse themselves from any issue that implicates such a conflict. Dr. Ezzell could explain to all those focused on silica and the process used what equipment he used. In the National Geo video Dr. Michael seems not to appreciate that the word “weaponize” has no usefulness — the key is the probativeness of the Silicon Signature. If Dr. Bannan has continued to be involved in the withholding of the AFIP data — or for that matter any FBI scientist given that it was their anthrax expert who made the dry powdered anthrax for DARPA — that would be very wrong.

      Is Pat Fellows the one who prepared the second round of slants (see emails posted) ? Is Dr. Ezzell, the FBI’s anthrax expert, the one who threw out Dr. Ivins’ first submission (which reportedly used a different protocol)? See later May 2002 email pressing for details on the protocol to be followed.

      In a previous blog discussion of these issues,

      “John Ezzell said…

      The anthrax spores that my lab prepared for DARPA were dead spores. At no time have I ever prepared live virulent dried spores. Secondly.. the spores I prepared were snow white, ultra pure and were light and “fluffy” where as the spores in the Daschle and Leahy letters were tan, not ultra pure and were different in their physical characteristics. The spores prepared for DARPA were prepared in accordance with all regulations and were to used to test mass spectrometer detectors for biological threat agents. Neither I nor DARPA did anything wrong or illegal in this matter.
      John Ezzell
      If anyone has futher questions they may contact me at ezzella55@aol.com or call me at 301-432-6448

      September 26, 2009 2:38 PM

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