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

* Bruce Ivins thought it was an “incredible coverup” that he was not allowed to swab the Diagnostic Services Division at the same time he swabbed his lab and offices

Posted by DXer on April 26, 2010


The FBI’s case against Dr. Ivins is bogus: no evidence, no witnesses, an impossible timeline, science that proves innocence instead of guilt. So what really happened? And why? The “fictional” scenario in my novel CASE CLOSED has been judged by many readers, including a highly respected official in the U.S. Intelligence Community, as “quite plausible.”

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *


21 Responses to “* Bruce Ivins thought it was an “incredible coverup” that he was not allowed to swab the Diagnostic Services Division at the same time he swabbed his lab and offices”

  1. DXer said

    Ex-CIA staffer alleges agency coverup in toxin exposure case
    By Jeff Stein
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, February 11, 2011; 12:00 AM

    A former CIA security officer is alleging that the agency is unjustifiably invoking a “state secrets” claim to cover up evidence that he and his family suffered illnesses as a result of exposure to environmental contamination at an agency facility.

    Kevin Shipp, 55, a counterterrorism consultant now employed by a firm with government contracts, said that the agency also has sought to prevent him from publicizing his ordeal by heavily redacting the manuscript he hopes to publish. …

    The facility where the Shipps lived is in the southwestern United States and has served as a weapons depot and disposal site. The Washington Post has agreed to the agency’s request not to name the facility or describe its location more precisely.

    “The last thing I told them as I handed in my shield,” he said, “was, ‘the same courage that made me a good security officer with this agency is the courage that enables me to stand up against you now.’ “

    • DXer said

      Ex-C.I.A. Agent Goes Public With Story of Mistreatment on the Job


      Published: February 10, 2011

      C.I.A. had assigned Mr. Shipp to a high-ranking job at the facility to uncover suspected security breaches. The family moved to an Army-owned house at Camp Stanley in June 1999 and left in May 2001. …

      Joel and Lorena Shipp described bunkers and many old weapons, including Soviet weaponry. They also said that they occasionally saw officials performing tactical drills, and that sometimes items were burned or buried there. “The house that our family was moved into was planted on top of a lot of buried ammunition,” Joel Shipp said.


      “I decided to just sacrifice myself for the public to know what they did, how illegal it was, how flawed the State Secrets Privilege is, and how they used it to cover up the destruction of my family,” he said. “It’s just abominable what they did.”

  2. DXer said

    “In December 2001, Dr. Ivins took it upon himself to swab the office he shared with two lab technicians for Ba contamination. He told investigations that he was concerned that the practices being used by USAMRIID to handle safely the material from the Daschle letter were inadequate. He claimed that his junior lab technician, who had been tasked to assist the Diagnostic Systems Division (“DSD”) in its analysis, in particular had voiced safety concerns to him about how that material was being handled. So he swabbled approximately 20 areas in his office, including the junior lab tech’s desk top, her computer and her telephone. Approximately half of these samples tested presumptively positive for one or two colonies of Ba, so he thoroughly cleaned all of the affected areas. He did not tell anyone other than his senior lab technician about his findings, not even the junior technician, on whose desk he found evidence of Ba contamination.”

    “Although Dr. Ivins’s claimed reason for the testing was a concern that DSD was mishandling the material, he did not attempt to sample areas in or around DSD.” (p.66, n. 45)
    [That was where the FBI anthrax expert had made a dried powder out of Flask 1029 Ames]

    DSD was where the FBI anthrax scientist had made a dried powder out of Flask 1029 Ames.

    In contrast to the DOJ/FBI understanding, Dr. Ivins wrote in an email that it was an “incredible cover-up” that he was not allowed to swab DSD.

    • DXer said

      On the second round of sampling:

      “Dr. Ivins reported his findings to his supervisor and the Chief of the Bacteriology Divsion. His supervisor was furious, given she had just two days earlier told him to not do any additional sampling. The Division Chief ordered Dr. Ivin’s supervisor to conduct additional sampling, which she did.”


      “Dr. Ivins’ s explanations were disingenuous. If it were true that the December swabbings that he was concerned that his junior lab technician might have contaminated the office, and he in fact found areas of contamination, he would have known that there must have been heavily-contaminated areas in the DSD where she worked, and from which the spores were ostensibly tracked. At that point, he would have had a moral obligation to inform USAMRIID Command of the potentially life-threatening contamination in DSD.”


      The Amerithrax Investigative Summary does not cite any evidence in support. The email posted above shows that Dr. Ivins thought it was an incredible cover-up that he was not allowed to test DSD. As it was, according to the DOJ account, his supervisor was furious at him for testing his own space. (Given the positive findings, the supervisor’s fury at Dr. Ivins’ testing seems inexplicable). So he is being damned by his supervisor for doing testing that might save a life and damned by the FBI for not doing yet still more testing — and the accusers are the same AUSAs who hid the fact that DSD had made dried powder out of Ames in Flask 1029… in DSD.

      There needs to be a GAO investigation, a Congressional investigation, and a reopening of Amerithrax.

      • DXer said

        On May 24, 2007, Dr. Ivins’ psychiatrist told him the matter was “Kafkaesque.” Wikipedia advises that the term can “describe an intentional distortion of reality by powerful but anonymous bureaucrats. “

      • DXer said

        On July 16, 2007, Dr. Ivins wrote that the FBI had accused him of “diluting, altering or adulterating an important preparation of anthrax material.”

        In one of your recent emails you said that it would all be over soon. If they indict someone, that means that innocent people are going to get dragged through the mud by both the defense and the prosecution as the pre-trial and trial procedures move forward.

        The FBI knows about my psychiatric woes and my family situation.

        “The FBI can take the most innocent moment or incident and turn it into something that looks as if it comes from the devil himself.”


        I’d really hope you could clue me in as to what needs changing, [Confidential Human Source].

        Comment: Who was he writing?

  3. DXer said

    Barry Kissin
    Anthrax attacks, cont’d
    Originally published May 01, 2010

    “It is now more than two months since the FBI closed Amerithrax, but the gag order remains in effect. When you consider what Heine has to say, it is obvious as why the FBI (and the FBI’s superiors) would want to keep USAMRIID mouths closed.

    Megan Eckstein reported in The FNP that Heine said “the whole investigation was filled with lies.” Not mistakes. Lies. Fundamentally, there is the lie that the “FBI science” comes anywhere close to establishing Ivins’ guilt.”

    But does the FBI science rely on the science at all? They don’t, do they? Not really.

    Hasn’t the entire NAS review merely served to delay production of key documents for 2 years? Wasn’t that the natural consequence when Dr. Majidi and FBI Director Mueller authorized it? Is there anything under the Federal Advisory Committee Act that exempts the documents produced to the NAS by the FBI from production? (No). So hasn’t NAS been part of the problem, rather than part of the solution?

    Attorney Kissin quotes the transcript:

    “MAJIDI: So again, I don’t want to get wrapped around the issue of how was a sample processed. The critical issue —

    QUESTION: Isn’t that part — an important part of the evidence, though?

    MAJIDI: Well, no … It would have been easy to make these samples at USAMRIID … ”

    Dr. Majidi knew this because the FBI anthrax expert had made dried anthrax using Ames from Flask 1029, right? (in same breath, note that the Ames spores were gamma irradiated while in the liquid slurry). FBI just neglected to tell us why they knew that it would be easy to make samples at USAMRIID and allowed the public to think that dried powder anthrax was not made at USAMRIID. The FBI anthrax expert reports that his product (using gamma irradiated Ames) was ultrapure (more pure than the mailed anthrax) and was white and fluffy. JE refuses to tell me whether he, for example, used antifoam or a silanizing solution in the slurry before drying. And now I’ve asked about four times. So I haven’t even bothered to attempt to ask whether the DARPA researchers then used a corona plasma discharge or sonicator on the dried powder he gave them as they said they were doing in the literature. It was to examine the effect of the CPD and sonicator on the Ames spores. JE has long used a sonicator, for example, to create a smooth suspension of particles in the liquid suspension.*

    Dr. Ivins, for example, withdrew 40 ml from Flask 1029 for the JH-APL research on mass spectrometry detector on August 26, 2000.

    JH-APL at some point (I don’t know when or where) tested the decontamination product of the former associate of Zawahiri.

    Who did Bruce Ivins loan his 5 L fermenter to? Was it DARPA? (Dugway used a 6L or 8 L fermenter to make the original batch of spore, Dr. Ivins suggested).

    I think we all need to encourage Attorney Kissin to bring suit under FOIA. Suits should be brought in both Frederick and the District of Columbia.

    Everyone should use the new online form to make targeted requests for information.

    Given that everyone has their own interest and different theories of the case, they can focus on different documents.

    Infiltration of US Biodefense

    For example, it was only Anonymous Scientist’s doggedness on the AFIP report that got that produced.

    Ed’s theory is that a First Grader wrote the letters. He could ask for all letters to Santa Claus at the North Pole in the FBI’s possession.

    • DXer said

      The problem in the analysis by outsiders is that they don’t watch television.

      If you had just seen the recent episode about the compartmentalized DOD project in which Abby was tricked into helping with a bioweapon, it would all be clear.

      Now would you want Attorney General Gonzalez on the case deciding whether to make the disclosure about Al-Timimi and his letter of commendation from the White House for the classified work for the Navy — or would you want Gibbs?

  4. DXer said

    NCIS last night involved a DARPA-funded project in which FBI agents did as they were told and went and got Abby, the NCIS forensics scientist. She was tasked to work on a biodefense project that was highly compartmentalized. It turned out she was actually working on a weapon rather than a cure for the disease. She was very mad that she had been tricked. (The nominal head of the project was embezzling but not actually running or aware of the operation; he thought there had only been 3 people who know of the operation but it was actually smaller than that because he didn’t even know.)

    The fellow actually running the operation had a long history of running covert operations and had been very important in intelligence circles. Now he thought it was time for him to cash out. And after having Abby target a particular strand of DNA and having a weapon developed, he was going to sell it to the highest bidder. (Although in the show it talked about targeting individuals, the weapon would have allowed the targetting of ethnic groups).

    Abby had been brought in after the original scientist, originally from a vet hospital, had found out the truth and they targeted him for murder.

    But it was a big mistake to to make Abby mad or get her lab dirty.

    In the real world, it never dawns on the scientists and FBI agents that they were used. They feel that their career is advanced if they please the superiors in the bureaucracy. FOIA officers, paralegals, staff attorneys see that the pooch is being screwed but everyone accepts the “you don’t want to know” line and turns back to their workaday concerns.

  5. DXer said

    March 3, 2003, 302 interview statement –

    IVINS gave copies of the Daschle B. a. concentration data sheet to ___________________________. IVINS does not recall bringing the Daschle concentration data to ____________. IVINS knows that _________is aware that the Daschle letter went into B3 because he brought __________ the data sheet. IVINS presumes that _____ would know that the Daschle letter was in B3 since ____________________________________________________________________________ would also have known that the Daschle letter went into B3, as ___ knew that B3 was where IVINS had his lab space.

    During the fall of 2001, some DSD personnel had to be placed on Cipro as a precaution. This was not because the Daschle letter was processed in B3. IVINS advised that the “scuttlebutt” was that it because of mishandling of material by DSD. If DSD did mess up with regard to safety, the most that could happen to _______ would be a slap on the hand. On the other hand, the same mistake could affect ______________________________________________________

    IVINS does not think that he should have been given the Daschle letter contained only in ziplocs, rather it should have been overpacked in a can. He does not think that the letter should have ever been in __________ since it is a Biosafety Level (BL) 2 area. He also found out after the fact that it should have been processed in B3.”

    • DXer said

      In a April 12, 2003 NBC News Transcripts, Marilyn Thompson explained:

      “John Ezzell is a senior scientist at the US Army Medical Research Lab at Fort Dietrick. And he’s an absolutely fascinating man who devoted almost of all of his life to studying pathogens. He was the scientist who was called upon by the FBI to do the initial analysis of the anthrax in the letters that showed up on Capitol Hill. And he walked into the lab and opened the envelope and had never seen anything like it. He was horrified. He said he felt like he had looked in the face of Satan. He came out of the lab, mixed a solution of bleach and water, and sniffed it because he was so afraid that in doing the lab work, he could somehow have been exposed to this highly virulent form of anthrax. Then he went home and–and tried to work on a formula for cooking anthrax in the kitchen oven so that the average American would have some way to protect themselves from this if it showed up in their mail.”

  6. DXer said

    In that February 12, 2003 FBI interview,

    “IVINS advised that there was a safety problem with the handling of the anthrax letters at USAMRIID that put people’s health at risk. Two people at USAMRIID had something to gain by the letters being analyzed at the lab, and the situation was just a nightamre for everyone else involved. As such, these two individuals had the most to lose from any problems uncovered with handling of the letters. IVINS identified these two individuals as _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________’

    IVINS heard from ___________________________________________ have been saying that ____________ IVINS did not handle the letters which is not true. IVINS gave copies of the report of his work on the letters to ______________________.”

    Was Dr. Iviins suggesting that Dr. Ezzell was trying to have the contamination issue point to the Bacteriology Division and away from the Diagnostic Services Division?

    By this time, had Dr. Ivins learned that Dr. Ezzell had made dried powder at the request of DARPA in connection with responses to a FOIA request?

    Was this a sensitive issue because General Parker had been told that Ft. Detrick did not make dried powder?

    And so did the FBI and its anthrax expert find itself in an awkward position PR-wise?

    Did that embarrassment and the compartmentalization and gag order lead to a situation that the focus on CYA led to a situation where it was not until 2005 — two years later — that Arthur Friedlander (or someone using his telephone number) is faxing the FBI the 20 pages regarding the visit by the DARPA project head who had been Zawahiri’s associate?

    How could the Third Squad do its job if the FBI scientists were preventing material information from being released.

    Someone has delayed production of the relevant emails now for almost 2 years.

    Either the DOJ and FBI needs to let loose the floodgates in connection of the documents being withheld in violation of FOIA or those responsible for the suppression should be fired.

    Everyone supporting the immediate release of documents should get a free pass because it is never too late to get it right — it is never too late to be part of the solution rather than the part of the problem.

    What if the dumbasses in Washington had suddenly at the last minute realized that Harry Samit was right in early September 2001?

    If these scientists were really being useful in protecting the country, they might have taken a little time to learn about the man, Ayman Zawahiri, trying to destroy the United States and his determination to infiltrate US biodefense. It has been public record since JB Petro’s excellent article in Science about the perils of scientific openness and so all they needed to do was read the scientific literature.

  7. DXer said

    What data sheet is he talking about? Who is he referring to? What two people, according to Ivins, would want it to go missing?

    In a February 14, 2003, he wrote:

    “Hi, _____ With respect to what we talked about yesterday… I think that you should ask ____ to Xerox a copy of the info that you and I signed and keep it (or give a copy to you), just to prevent it from “mysteriously disappearing,” courtesy of you-know-who. I’m going to have a fine weekend… hope you do too!”

    • DXer said

      I believe the data sheet he is talking about concerned “sample designation” SPS 02.266. It was analyzed on March 11, 2002. The Net Weight of dry material was ______. “WFI added to vial = ____.”
      Plate Counts:

      10-6 dilution _____
      10-7 dilution _____
      10-8 dilution _____
      10-9 dilution _____
      10-10 dilution not done
      Dilution chosen ____ Mean (average) ______
      CFU/ml in original vial _____
      CFU/gram in original dry material _____

      Comments: Powder in freezer vial was slightly off-white or “eggshell” in color. The dry powder stuck to the sides of the freezer vial. After resuspension in WFI, no visual clumps were seen with the unaided eye ________ looked at the spore suspension under phase contrast microscopy: the spores appeared to be about 99% refractile, with no debris, and some clumping.

      • DXer said

        Q. How was the Daschle letter handled?
        A. I worked on this letter _

        “I was surprised at how fine the powder was. It floated around inside the hood like dust in the sunlight. …

        “I added water to the powder and did serial dilutions for plate counts After that, the vial stayed in the lab. I took the letter in the ziplocks, bleached the outside of the ziplocks, and returned the letter in the ziplocks out through the passbox. It was returned to Special Pathogens, but I do not remember if I returned it or someone else did. I made laboratory notes that contain dates and descriptions. These notes can’t be released because they are considered evidence for the Amerithrax Grand Jury Investigation.

        • DXer said

          “IVINS was recently at Home Depot and saw the many different grades of sandpaper that they sell which made him think about the use of sand in purifying B.a. A pasty block of spores can be shaken with sand of varying coarseness to achiever very pure or fine spores.”

          302 Interview Statement, February 12, 2003

        • DXer said

          Dr. Ivins had an imagination to reinvent things. Here are silica beads used for grinding.

        • DXer said

          Using the 2001 anthrax mailings as a model for analysis, an FBI lab scientist has explained that BW agents are generally mixtures that derive from a matrix of possible processing steps. Under grinding, he includes “ball mill.” Can the same be accomplished without a ball mill? Simply using a tin can as Dr. Popov once suggested?

          Might silica beads or sand have been used?


          • Carbon sources

          • Nitrogen source

          • Complex media

          • Cell culture

          • Animal hosts

          • Agar


          • Heat shock

          • Filter

          • Centrifuge

          • Precipitation

          or flocculation

          • Solvent


          • Gradients


          • Detergents

          • Water/buffer

          • Solvents

          e.g. FCs

          • Spray-dry


          • Ball mill

          • Jet mill

          • Mortar & pestle


          • Flow enhancers

          • Resins

          • Stabilizers

          • Encapsulants

          • Irritants

        • BugMaster said

          Animal Host?

          No, the morphs were mutants that lacked / had a defective in the plasmid that encodes for the formation of the bacterial capsule, and therefore, not pathogenic.

          (no morphs were ever recovered from the bodies of the victims).

        • BugMaster said

          The use of silica or other beads to grind up bacteria to release the cellular contents has been around a long time.

          The apparatus I used to use was called a “Bead Beater”.

  8. DXer said

    By email dated February 17, 2003, Dr. Ivins wrote with the subject “Very important!!”

    The more I thought about it, the more I’m sure that you should promptly tell __________________ about the existence of the data sheet that you and I signed. The FBI need to have it! If not, ____ could request the sheets to “review them,” then return them without data sheet mysteriously missing. I have no desire for __________to make you and me out to be liars, when WE’RE the ones who have been telling the truth. We don’t have anything to hide. They do. If the truth came out, ____ could lose face, and ______ career could go down the drain.

    Please contact me today on this. I have to call ______________ about our talk several days ago. You really, REALLY need to tell them about the sheet immediately, if you haven’t already done so! Also you should impress upon her that there are two people at RIID who think it’s in their best career interest for our data sheet not to exist, so the FBI should get hold of it as soon as possible. If they wait around for days or weeks, it will probably disappear, thanks to you know who.

    — Bruce”

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