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

* Dr. Henry Heine, former colleague of Dr. Bruce Ivins, freed of the gag order, interviewed on his last day at USAMRIID

Posted by Lew Weinstein 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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Dr. Henry Heine was former colleague of Dr. Ivins, freed of the gag order,  on February 25, 2010 gave WFMD an exclusive, lengthy in-depth interview on his last day at USAMRIID.

DXer notes some highlights of this important three-part interview.  The entire interview has great material but given its length, if you needed to prioritize, you might listen to the 3 segments in reverse order.

http://www.wfmd.com/podcast/bobcast.xml

– He says there are things that he can’t talk about — unless he wants the FBI to show up and take him away in handcuffs.
Any witness can talk about his grand jury testimony — is he referring to matters that are classified?

– It was clear that they were focused on a small group of us at USAMRIID, one of which was Bruce.   Of the 4 or 5 of us they were focused on, one of them was Bruce.

– In the third segment, Dr. Heine’s says we couldn’t talk about what we were questioned on. Prior to November 1, 2007 raid on his house, several days prior, he had just returned from a cruise and talking about what a great time he had on the cruise. He was talking about these two great women on the cruise — and Henry told him “Bruce, they are FBI agents.”  “Look, we can google can figure this out.”

– Very conspicuous surveillance. Black suburbans parked on the ridge all weekend. Things taken out of glove compartment and left. Bruce was told that Dr. Heine had turned him in (which, he explains, was not true).   Dr. Ivins was thereby removed from his support structure and isolated. He was not allowed to go near him (per instruction to Ivins by Dr. Ivins’ lawyer).   Faced with the FBI’s pressure and isolation (and incurring over $50,000 in legal fees), Bruce killed himself.

– He says that under condition Delta, in the days after 9/11, not only would Dr. Ivins likely been checking on everyone’s animals, but he would have been on the internet.
(Note:  He raises the question, indirectly, why the FBI hasn’t produced evidence of how he spent his time on the internet on those nights.  (Note:  no records from the Apple Computer from the hot suite have been produced.)

– He discusses how the government took things out of context of emails. Dr. H says a lot of the psychological stuff dates to the last couple of years and the tremendous pressure put on him. Dr. H says he was being questioned every couple of weeks. He somehow has an agreement with the FBI relating to confidentiality.

– His theory as to the silicon signature is that the spores were “grown in a situation where probably antifoam was present.” He says in a series of experiments with a colleague he would use an antifoam in creating an aerosol. They use a small amount and bubble air through and would have foam develop so they introduced antifoam. The FBI was very keen on why they did that and what happened to that material. Now the FBI says “oh, that’s just an anomaly” but back then there was keen interest in what was done as to the use of antifoam.

– Dr. Heine says all the USAMRIID scientists were interviewed in mid-October 2001 and where they were on the dates of mailing. (Comment: What did Dr. Ivins say when asked within 2 weeks of the mailing? Why wasn’t his response at the time provided?)

– Dr. Heine says that the drying equipment that would be needed was not available — and not protected — in Dr. Ivins’ workspace.

– He says Dr. Ivins did not have the knowledge or expertise to grow up large amounts of bacteria — it would have been impossible for Bruce to do.

– Dr. Heine says a lot of his own work with his animals was done with material from Flask 1029 and his office was in 1412.
(Note: from the unredacted version HH took out 50 ml, 50 ml, 10 ml, 8 ml.)

– In Building 1425, it was kept in the cold room freezer. With access to the suite, anyone could walk in and take it. (Note: this is why the FBI estimates that up to 377 had access required elimination (allowing for some duplication who had access in both 1425 and 1412)  Dr. H says Dr. Hatfill would have had access in 1412 but does not think he could have made it, noting that Dr. H is a virologist.

– Dr. Heine had some of the good stuff to grow up for antibiotic work. He says even just opening up that zip lock bag… like when you open up a talcum powder and twist the top, it was like that. They were working around the clock. His task was to identify the antibiotic that should be used — and to consider whether it was resistant to antibiotics.

– He says the mailed anthrax was  1, 000, 000, 000, 000 per gram.   (He posits an 8 rather than 7 letters; suggests the possibility of one shredded in the machinery at Brentwood explaining the contamination).   He says “We still need to get 4 more powers of ten beyond what Dr. Ivins could do.”  It would take a fermenter run.  Problem with a fermenter run you still need to get rid of the liquid. None of these things were available at USAMRIID, he says.

– He says lyophilizer was in non-containment area and could not have been used.

– His theory as to the silicon signature is that the spores were “grown in a situation where probably antifoam was present.” He says in a series of experiments with a colleague he would use a silicone-based antifoam in creating an aerosol. They use a small amount and bubble air through and would have foam develop so they introduced antifoam. The FBI was very keen on why they did that and what happened to that material. Now the FBI says “oh, that’s just an anomaly” but back then there was keen interest in what was done as to the use of antifoam.

– On the government having it all rely on Flask 1029, he analogizes it to the situation of the guy at the Walmart and blaming him for a shooting in town because he had control of the bullets at one point under the counter. He says that’s all they have — and implies that is ridiculous.

Morning News Express Bobcast

“Rise and shine, up and at ’em!”Bob Miller (voted Frederick Magazine’s Radio Personality three years in a row) is at the controls each morning, but he’s hardly in control! Wake up informed with Bob on WFMD.

http://www.wfmd.com/podcast/bobcast.xml

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19 Responses to “* Dr. Henry Heine, former colleague of Dr. Bruce Ivins, freed of the gag order, interviewed on his last day at USAMRIID”

  1. DXer said

    “Not long thereafter, he was apparently accusing the FBI of abusing him.
    This was a theme that had actually started a few years earlier. According
    to Technician #1, “as early as 2005, [Dr. Ivins] was convinced that the
    women living in the house next to him were FBI agents because they
    moved in really quick, then they left. She remembered he talked about it
    all the time.” Dr. Ivins’ suspicion was, in fact, groundless: No buildings in
    the neighborhood were ever used for surveillance.”

    Am I right that the two women on the cruise with him and his brother were in fact FBI agents? And Dr. Saathoff knows this? At least Dr. Heine explained to Bruce that googling readily revealed that they were. And I’ve uploaded the emails to one of them in which he sent the cute puppy pictures. (And affidavits seemed to evidence the knowledge communicated to his cruisemates). (I spoke to Bruce’s brother about the two women and he explained that one of them was pregnant; he assures me that he and Bruce were not putting the moves on them).

    There was long-term conspicuous surveillance observed by neighbors. According to Dr. Heine undercover agents were befriending him and his brother on a 2007 cruise. And the 302s confirm the FBI was regularly getting reports from a co-worker. But Bruce here is being faulted having such suspicions and it is being used as evidence of his guilt of the anthrax mailings?

    I’ve got an idea. If you don’t want someone with a history of depression to feel suicidal, don’t test his panties for semen and say you are going to call his family before the grand jury to confirm he was unhappy.

    Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean the hotties on the cruise weren’t FBI agents.

    But as for the issue of the neighbors, that would make for a good interview. Property records would give the names of the women and they could be contacted and interviewed.

    • DXer said

      I believe, according to the FBI, that he was interviewed 45 times by the FBI. Is that number right? (see NAS records)

      Is there anyone who wouldn’t be majorly stressed out?

  2. DXer said

    “The only lyophilizer at USAMRIID that IVINS had any knowledge of is located in Suite B5. This lyophlizer is a Virtis and it went straight to Suite B5 after it was received at USAMRIID. It has never been outside of Biosafety Level (BSL) 2 lab space. IVINS used this lyophilizer to make MPL PA vaccine. … He has not used this lyophilizer since the mid 1990s.” …

    There is an additional lyophilizer in Building 1412, Room __ that _______

    • richard rowley said

      This is another area where the government has failed to connect the dots.

      To give (an incomplete?) overview of this failure:

      1) failure to prove that substrain of Ames couldn’t have come from another lab OR been stolen from USAMRIID by a coworker of Ivins.

      2) failure to prove that Ivins was in the State of New Jersey at any time in September or October of 2001.

      3) failure to prove the handwriting in the letters/on the envelopes was that of Ivins.

      4) failure to prove Ivins did ANY drying of wet anthrax to produce a powder in the relevant time period.
      (this is buttressed by the fact that the lyophilizer in question wasn’t used by Ivins since the mid 1990s and wasn’t readily available (ie wasn’t in the BSL-3 area that the anthrax was in))

      5) failure to find via polygraph any evidence of lying on Ivins’ part.

      6) failure to prove Ivins had any particular grudge against the addressees or their organizations.

      7) failure to prove Ivins matched the original profile of the perp (a profile which straddled the line between schizophrenia and sociopathy)

      8) failure to come up with a realistic motive (some they listed multiple unproven motives and claimed he had “multiple” motives).

      9) failure to realistically come to terms with the highlighting in the characters of the Brokaw/NY Post text (only Mister Lake appears impressed with their ‘amino acid code theory’)

      Etc?

  3. DXer said

    “He developed heart palpitations. [ Hatfill ]wondered whether he was losing his mind.
    Remembering what her boyfriend was like back then, Boo grows emotional, “I got tired of cleaning up your vomit.”

    “The Wrong Man,” in The Atlantic, p. 52.

  4. DXer said

    “The FBI would later speculate that Hatfill had somehow gained access to anthrax cultures while working at USAMRIID, perhaps through an inadvertently unlocked door.”

    “The Wrong Man,” in The Atlantic (May 2010), p. 52.

  5. DXer said

    “”He stopped visiting friends, concerned that the FBI would harass them, too. Soon, he stopped going out in public altogether. Once an energetic and ambitious professional who reveled in 14-hour workdays, Hatfill now found himself staring at the wall all day.”

    “The Wrong Man,” in The Atlantic, (May 2010), at 51.

  6. DXer said

    “Hatfill believes that local authorities joined in tormenting him at the behest of the Justice Department. Coming home from dinner one Friday night, he was pulled over by a Washington, D.C., police officer who issued him a warning for failing to signal a lane change. Three blocks later, another cop stopped him, again for not using his turn signal. The officer asked if he’d been drinking. Hatfill said he’d had one Bloody Mary. He was ordered out of his car. “Not unless you’re going to arrest me,” Hatfill says he responded indignantly. The officer obliged. Hatfill spent the weekend in jail and would later be ordered to attend a four-day alcohol counseling program.”

    “The Wrong Man,” in The Atlantic (May 2010), p. 51.

    • DXer said

      “They were purposely sweating him,” Connolly says, “trying to get him to go over the edge.”

      “The Wrong Man,” in The Atlantic (May 2010), p. 51.

  7. DXer said

    “Certain of Hatfill’s innocence, the former colleague Jim Cline was among the few who stood by him, afraid that his increasingly socially isolated friend would kill himself to escape the torment.”

    “The Wrong Man,” in The Atlantic (May 2010), p. 50.

  8. DXer said

    “By this time, the FBI and the Justice Department were so confident Hatfill was guilty that on August 6, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft publicly declared him a “person of interest” — the only time the nation’s top law enforcement official has ever so identified the subject of an active criminal investigation.”

    “The Wrong Man,” in The Atlantic (May 2010), p. 50.

  9. Anonymous said

    This is an excellent interview and drills right down to the nitty gritty details.
    It should be listened to carefully by everyone interested in this case – especially those who have attempted to argue that Dr Ivins “could have had access to a fermenter” or “might have been able to dry a slurry of wet anthrax into a powder with a lypholizer”.
    The fols that make these staements (and some of them are scientists who should no better) have likely never actually performed fermenter runs before or produced powders – or perhaps had any practical laboratory experience.
    Dr Heine details the impossibility of performing these tasks either covertly or even overtly in the Hot Suite at Detrick.
    The only fermenter available was broken in 2001. Even if it wasn’t it would have been utterly impossible to use this fermenter to produce a virulent agent without causing massive contamination – even disposing of the dozens of gallons of contaminated media would have been impossible – never mind then decontaminating the fermenter and the fermenter hoses etc later on.
    Drying with the lypholizer would have spewed the exhaust from the vacuum system into the lab – causing massive dry powder contamination and causing dozens of unvaccinated personnel (secretarties, administrators etc) to contract inhlational anthrax. That never happened hence we can immediately conclude the drying never happended at Detrick.
    The devil is in the details as Dr Heine eloquently points out. The FBI, of course, completely ignore these details. Because if they don’t their case falls apart.
    The only question now is – are they going to get away with it?
    Dr Heine’s interview should have made major headline news – but it seems to have been largely ignored by a media who simply don’t understand the science issues.

  10. DXer said

    6/22/2004 302 interview statement

    “______________ had heard that olive oil could be used in the aerosol process, however, ___ never used it. _____ believed that there might have been a small glass bottle of olive oil in the cabinet in room ___ of Building 1412. ____ could not recall the brand of oil.”

  11. DXer said

    6/3/2004 302 interview statement

    “It is possible that if antifoam was utilized in an aerosol challenge that it would not have been noted in the logs.______________________________

    __________ never introduced olive oil to the aerosol challenge process.
    REDACTED – ABOUT 8 LINES
    _________ had never heard of using olive oil as an alternative to antifoam.”

  12. DXer said

    5/07/2004 302 interview statement:

    “_______ advised that ___ has never seen any empty olive oil bottles in the hot areas at USAMRIID and said that _________”

  13. DXer said

    5/10/2004 302 interview statement

    ______ said that ___ had seen a glass bottle of Italian olive oil in one of the aerosol rooms at USAMRIID, however, could not recall exactly where.

  14. DXer said

    6/2/2004 302 interview statement

    “The antifoam was kept in a cabinet in room ________. The antifoam dilution was prepared as needed and was not kept as a stock item. If the dilution was placed into the hood, it would have been autoclaved out of the hood. The dilution would not have been prepared for an anthrax aerosol challenge.. REDACTED – 8 OR SO LINES
    never saw any bottle of olive oil in Building 1412. _____ does not know if there was olive oil in other parts of Building 1412.

  15. DXer said

    March 4, 2010
    Derailing Justice Again
    Norman M. Covert

    (Editor’s Note: This is the first of two commentaries regarding the late Dr. Bruce Ivins of Fort Detrick, who was accused of being the notorious anthrax bomber.)

    It is probable that the G-Men of the U. S. Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are content, sleeping well tonight. One might observe that Mrs. Diane Ivins and her family have been denied such slumber. Dr. Bruce Ivins is surely in the care of his Father in Heaven.

    After eight-plus years, the G-Men declare in the “Amerithrax Investigative Summary” released Friday Feb. 19, 2010:

    “…Administrative and investigative steps taken in the past year toward closure of the investigation confirm the conclusion that Dr. Ivins perpetrated the (2001) anthrax letter attacks … (B)ased on the evidence set forth above, the investigation … has been concluded.”

    Some may question if this bureaucratic theater has closed the curtain on the scenario’s final act. Naysayers believe the prologue is sure to come. The scenery may tumble from the catwalk and the spotlight will eventually shine on the actual terrorist.

    This, too, will bring vindication and reinstatement of Dr. Ivins to the register of laureate scientists of Fort Detrick. It won’t dry the family’s tears or its disappointment in those sworn to protect their beloved country.

    The media has taken up the clarion call of the Justice Department, portraying Dr. Ivins as a scientist suffering from irreparable social and mental ills.

    Nothing new is evident in the report pointing the accusative finger at this Frederick church and family man. Someone killed five and sickened another 17 innocent persons in the attacks and we had better keep our guard up.

    Significantly no B. anthracis spores were uncovered in Dr. Ivins home, garage, autos, van or other personal effects – a prima facie fact in his favor. Neither his handwriting nor fingerprints can be associated with the letters, another favorable defense fact. The report’s discussion of possible links to the post office box in Trenton, N.J., fail the test of reason and opportunity, plus the instances are more embarrassing for him than being supportive of a terrorist indictment.

    The quest to indict Dr. Ivins appears based more on what happened from 2006 until 2008, a time when the FBI’s fleet of black Suburbans was a fixture blocking the Ivins driveway on Military Road in Frederick, a stone’s throw from the Fort Detrick main gate. The FBI gambit intimidated Dr. Ivins, whose life was made one of misery and fear, not to mention the need for a lawyer.

    Past and present colleagues express skepticism of the FBI/Justice Department science in media interviews and letters to area newspapers. Dr. Henry Heine’s comments Feb. 23, 2010, on Bob Miller’s “Morning Express” show on WFMD (AM930) should have led the next morning’s Frederick News-Post. Instead the local daily published a bland rehash of the Justice Department’s investigation in its edition Sunday morning February 28. You may hear the interview at http://www.wfmd.com.

    The bio-defense veterans laud Dr. Ivins’ brilliant research the past 30 years. They point out, however, that his specialty did not include skill in preparing such massive quantities of the highly refined anthrax concoction served in the deadly letters.

    The B. anthracis vaccine work at the U. S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) lacks the required equipment to brew the slurry in sufficient quantity. Dr. Ivins could not have conducted the sophisticated drying and other prep work in a few late night hours in the lab, away from the prying eyes of colleagues. He could not have contained the brilliantly active spores.

    The Justice Department insists its DNA analysis of B. anthracis strain RMR1029, developed by Dr. Ivins from the earlier Ames sample to improve the existing vaccine, is the smoking gun tagging him as the lone perpetrator.

    The FBI analysis was headed by Claire Fraser-Liggett of the University of Maryland Institute for Genome Science. Her work is being assessed by the National Academies of Science, which says it will not offer an opinion on the veracity of any supposed link between the genome science, Dr. Ivins and the attacks.

    In November 2001, a skittery and vulnerable American public demanded former President George W. Bush find and prosecute the person or persons who developed the sophisticated, weapons grade B. anthracis found in envelopes mailed to Florida, New York City and Washington and environs.

    President Bush assigned former Attorney General John Ashcroft to find the bomber, using all government resources. The Justice Department was already scrambling with the disparate U.S. foreign and domestic intelligence and law enforcement agencies to carve out their piece of the pie in the new war against terrorism.

    Jeffrey Taylor, a Harvard-schooled lawyer, was an advisor to Mr. Ashcroft. One of Taylor’s first tasks was to write several acceptable provisions for the U.S. Patriot act.

    The Patriot Act, a wartime necessity, ultimately provided martial law-like authority to domestic intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies. Agents would use the new authority to monitor terrorist suspects’ communications and wield virtually warrantless search and seizure.

    Ultimately, Taylor’s work on the Patriot Act earned him appointment as Attorney General for the District of Columbia. He was assigned to lead the “Amerithrax Investigation” and undoubtedly ordered with Oval Office authority to find the perpetrator at all costs.

    There is no doubting Taylor’s patriotic zeal, but he was thrust into uncharted territory and given the keys to the candy store. The opportunity for abuse of power was rampant in The Patriot Act. Such abuse occurred frequently as FBI agents rounded up anyone in their crosshairs, still learning the extent of their authority. They left a trail of ruined lives before coming to Frederick and Fort Detrick.

    Luckless former Fort Detrick virologist Dr. Steven Hatfill was guilty of a couple amateurish personal and professional miscues that made him vulnerable. He had come to USAMRIID in 1998, moving across post to the National Cancer Institutes campus in late 1999. He possessed little knowledge of B. anthracis, a fact ignored as the FBI continued its “hot pursuit.”

    Mr. Taylor came close to obtaining an indictment after two search warrants bared Dr. Hatfill’s flat in the Detrick Apartments on Frederick’s W. Seventh Street. The searches were media theater, yielding nothing of value. Consider, too, the explanations after a suspect farm pond produced virtually nothing.

    Mr. Taylor’s team uncovered doubtful circumstantial evidence against Dr. Hatfill. He sued the government for its reckless media leaks of his probable guilt as a “person of interest.”

    In June 2008, the U. S. District Court of Appeals in Washington negotiated an agreement foregoing further explanation and that the case against Hatfill would be dropped. He was awarded more than $2.5 million, plus and an annual allowance of $150,000.

    Exonerated in August 2008, Dr. Hatfill is struggling to regain his name and career. The Justice Department retraction coincided with Mr. Taylor’s pronouncement that Dr. Ivins was the new for-sure “anthrax bomber.”

    Such a financial settlement doesn’t seem probable in the Ivins family’s immediate future, but the Hon. Mr. Taylor’s Justice Department credentials include his having lost a $100 million communications fraud case because he prosecuted using the wrong statute.

    Mr. Taylor resigned his post in August 2009, thus he was scarce when the report was issued without comment more than a fortnight ago. New Attorney General Eric Holder must be satisfied with the resolution, which declares, “We won!”

    Silence from the current Oval Office may indicate the new administration isn’t much interested in truth, veracity, the welfare of Ivins’ family or Bruce’s legacy. It’s a shameful performance by all involved.

    • DXer said

      March 12, 2010

      Ivins Minus the Technicolor

      Norman M. Covert

      (Editor’s Note: This is the second of two commentaries regarding the late Dr. Bruce Ivins of Fort Detrick, who was accused of being the notorious anthrax bomber.)

      Many scientific and lay persons express dismay at the Department of Justice’s Amerithrax report. It begs belief of its conclusions despite a host of miscalculations, far-fetched circumstantial evidence and omission of some mitigating facts. This creative assessment of evidentiary material lacks Hollywood’s blandishments, but not the creativity.

      The report would have you believe the late Dr. Bruce E. Ivins is a clone of “Star Wars” cinematic villain Darth Vader. The tragic-comedy here is that the villain within may be the Justice Department, portraying the bumbling Dark Helmet and his sidekicks in Hollywood’s “Space Balls” spoof.

      Like Dr. Ivins, the analogous “Dark Side” of Fort Detrick does not exist. There is no secret laboratory beneath the former airport runway parallel to Military Road. Offensive biological warfare came to an abrupt halt. Despite braying of dissenters, the U. S. Army cannot be a scofflaw.

      ***
      We saw no troubled, brooding scientist during that presentation just two months prior to the first anthrax letter attacks. His career was certainly not on the rocks and he was considered among the best and brightest at USAMRIID.

      The Justice Department has overreached in slandering the besieged Dr. Ivins. He may have been their last-chance suspect among microbiologists at USAMRIID. Each was vulnerable to suspicion after demonstrating their individual skills to assay evidence from the letter bombs.

      USAMRIID’s team found the dry anthrax spores to be among the most sophisticated they had ever seen. The silicon-laced spores bore little resemblance to their wet product used to expose research animals.

      The former Pilot Plant (Bldg. 470) at Fort Detrick once possessed and produced the volumes of anthrax slurry in pursuit of weaponization. Such equipment, including a large volume lyophilizer, did not exist at Fort Detrick in the summer and fall of 2001. Dr. Ivins and his colleagues were limited to small volume vessels to brew the wet product they needed.

      Time, the experts say, also mitigates Dr. Ivins as the killer. It would have taken many months to produce the amount of slurry needed to realize the final amounts of product. Each letter was said to contain many multiples above what is needed for an effective lethal dose.

      Any major production in Dr. Ivins’ suites, centrally located in USAMRIID’s main building (1412), would have been detected. Biological warfare safety experts agree it would have been impossible to contain contamination within the BL3 equipped laboratory.

      USAMRIID’s negative airflow system carries outside air from the two entrances through HEPA filters prior to outside exhaust. This reduces to near zero any threat to the community.

      ***

      Clearly someone was going to take the fall for the attacks despite the enormity of the challenge. The lack of direct evidence suggests the investigation had gone as far as it could. The report is an indictment of those who simply failed in their investigation – a sorry ending to this screenplay.

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