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

* Dr. Bruce Ivins, upon the poor quality of Dugway spores being produced, and given that he did not trust Battelle to do the spores, thought Southern Research Institute was a possibility

Posted by DXer on April 26, 2010

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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 *

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12 Responses to “* Dr. Bruce Ivins, upon the poor quality of Dugway spores being produced, and given that he did not trust Battelle to do the spores, thought Southern Research Institute was a possibility”

  1. DXer said

    Dr. Ivins wrote about “Additional Dugway Spore Preps” by email dated August 3, 2004:

    “It took an enormous amount of purification and repurification to process the Dugway 2003 spores. When the last 2004 batch comes, I’ll work on the 2004 lots, then check them all out and we can decide what looks good enough – hopefully all the of the batches – to combine. With half of the 2003 batches failing to “make the grade,” and with all the work required on what was acceptable, I’m reluctant to plunge back into going with Dugway. I’ve looked at the 2004 batches, and you can see visible differences in them. Before we even considered going with Dugway spores as our standard, I’d hope that ___- could go out and observe a run and a harvest. Even things as minor as how the medium components are combined and sterilized could affect the spores.

    With the Dugway 2003 material now looking fairly good – if it’s contaminated with endotoxin, IT AIN’T MY LAB’S FAULT!!!!! – with the NIAID spores ready for purification, with the Dugway 2004 material, and with our continued production of spores, I don’t foresee a problem. We were slowed down this summer by ____ being gone for three weeks, by the FBI shutdown of our operations followed by a complete autoclave shutdown in ____, but now we’re caught up and will be ready to provide spores to research investigators. When ___ has been converted into the spore production area, then operations should go even smoother.

    – Bruce”

  2. DXer said

    By email dated May 31, 2004, Dr. Ivins wrote on the subject of “Dugway 2003 spores:

    “There’s some troubling information on the purified Dugway 2003 spores – They seem to be clumping in the flask, instead of simply settling individually to the bottom, as they should. They also “foam” somewhat when teh flask is gently swirled to resuspend the spores, with spore clumbs collecting at the top. The Dugway spores from 1997 faomed and clumped somewhat also, but not nearly to this great an extent. I just noticed it today, when I looked at the suspension of spores in the flask. I didn’t see evidence of it a month ago, when the purified prep was made. At that time, all of the individual, purified lots looked fine (unclumped, refractile spores, very little debris or vegetative cells or nonrefractile spores), as did the combined purified batch. I have no clue what’s happened in just one month. Spores that we make here at RIID (not in fermenters, obviously) don’t do this.
    ***

  3. DXer said

    By email dated April 16, 2004 Dr. Ivins wrote:

    “It blows my mind how they could make such good spores in 1997, and in 2004 they have nothing but problems.”

  4. DXer said

    Collection of almost 50 of Lew’s top graphics (fully viewable)
    http://www.blurb.com/books/1313070

  5. A S CHESNICK said

    I wanted to add one thing to the long list of things the FBI were totally unaware of….

    The FBI stated all the deadly anthrax letters were mailed from the same mailboxes at the corner of Banks St. and Nassau St. in Princeton, NJ. Some letters bearing a fictitious 4th grade Elementary school address.

    One thing to ponder is… Across the street from these mailboxes and up the block a bit on Nassau Street we find Princeton’s Graduate School of Creative Writing; this building is also known affectionately on campus as “Old Elementary” or the elementary school. This tidbit was unknown to the FBI investigation.

    Also – Does anyone care to speculate on any Bio-Evangelist lurking among the alumni of the Elementary School?

    TTFN
    (My secret code for TA-TA FOR NOW)

  6. DXer said

    What “DARPA’s anthrax weaponization contract work with Battelle” is Mike discussing?

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/washingtonpostinvestigations/2008/08/governments_anthrax_case_yield.html
    Posted by: mike | August 4, 2008 5:49 PM

    “***

    What I see here is the FBI tiptoeing around desparate to close the case yet not wanting to open up the whole can of treaty violation worms involving DARPA’s anthrax weaponization contract work with Battelle. …

    Being an actively publishing genome project researcher myself, I question the concept of DNA many generations downstream (via various production runs) really allowing traceback of its origin down to a specific flask, even by 454 technology. They’re exaggerating. For controls, they would have to access and test other flasks that they don’t know exist, maybe these would have an even better match. I think this DNA claim is a bluff floated by the FBI trying to stampede Ivins into plea bargain (last Tuesday, over death penalty vs life) since they don’t seem to have any real evidence. This flask stuff wouldn’t be admissable evidence under Daubert in any event since no applicable peer-reviewed publication exists and could be years away.

    Aliquot duplicates are commonly transfered in bacteriology, not least to back up refrigerator failure. For example, Ft. Detrick reportedly furnished the Ames strain to Batelle and other labs. No doubt Battelle stored aliquots of that original sample so that they could come back to a constant starting point. No one would test vaccines on one strain and do aerosol experiments with a different strain, nor on a derived colony many generations (and properties) removed. DNA could only provide circumstantial evidence. Here they already knew back in 2001 that the strain came from where else, Ft. Detrick.

    When I look at the spore density reported in the Senate packets (a trillion live spores per gram, no clumping) greatly exceeding anything ever reported in the anthrax weapons program or subsequent attempts at Dugway to get anywhere near this density, in conjunction with the lack of debris in electon microscopy and the electrostatic properties, it seems impossible to me that Ivins could have singlehandedly pioneered a new advanced dry aerosol technology (which involves superheated air meeting an wet aerosol in a highly specialized $50,000 device).

    The physical containment and transfer of this powder is all but impossible — it poses an exceedling hazardous contamination issue to its manufacturer and facilities. Ivins was a bacteriologist — all of his published aerosol tests on rhesus etc involved wet aerosols, not dry, never powders. Ft. Detrick has a separate aerobiology unit with a co-author from there on every aerosol paper. It’s a wet anthrax facility.

    I don’t have an opinion on Ivin’s participation overall but in my opinion he could not possibly have made the weapons-grade Senate material without a collaborator from the Batelle facility in West Jefferson, Ohio. The earlier material was sludge anybody could make.”

    • DXer said

      In April 2007, the United States Attorney sent Ivins a letter saying he was “not a target of the investigation.” Ivins’ attorney reports that Ivins was told that the FBI was investigating 42 people who had access to RMR-1029 at the Battelle labs in Ohio.

    • Roberto said

      Being an actively publishing genome project researcher myself, I question the concept of DNA many generations downstream (via various production runs) really allowing traceback of its origin down to a specific flask, even by 454 technology. They’re exaggerating. For controls, they would have to access and test other flasks that they don’t know exist, maybe these would have an even better match.

      This was one of the exact questions I thought the NAS was going to address. I want them to answer what we can be possibly known about the anthrax.

      How can I know the FBI is not measuring grains of sand with a yardstick?

  7. DXer said

    In an email on the “Dugway Spore Preparations,” dated January 31, 2003, someone explained that

    “During the harvesting of spores, they found that the spore pellets were difficult to resuspend (My lab has determined that this is a normal characteristic of hydrophobic spores). ______________…. ___ then shocked me by saying that in order to help resuspend the spores, they would add a detergent “such as Tide”. My chin is still sore from when it hit the table. ___ was quick to assure me that it was “Tide without bleach.” _______ Batch records should list all materials and equipmen used. Do they have or use batch records. I then asked him how the latest (inferior) spores differed from the spores sent back in 1997 that have been used extensively. He stated that the latest spores differed only in that they were frozen. This implies that the 1997 spores were also treated with Tide (We need to confirm this).”

  8. DXer said

    SRI was a subcontractor under the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense at GMU. That was where work with virulent Ames was done for the DARPA-funded researchers in the suite shared by “anthrax weapons suspect,” to borrow his defense counsels phrase, Ali Al-Timimi. When did SRI first obtain virulent Ames?

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/when-did-southern-research-institute-first-obtain-virulent-ames-and-from-whom/#comment-5518

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