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

* a truly pathetic interchange of emails between Dr. Bruce Ivins and a colleague (name withheld by USAMRIID) in the spring of 2007

Posted by DXer on August 24, 2010

Dr. Bruce Ivins

Read this pathetic interchange from the spring of 2007, when Bruce Ivins was trying to reconstruct events from 2001 prior to testifying before a grand jury.

  • Shortly after this, Ivins was cut off from all communication with his former colleagues.
  • Fifteen months later he committed suicide.
  • Eight days after that, although he had never been indicted, the FBI claimed that he was the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

It is now over two years since Dr. Bruce Ivins’ alleged suicide and the FBI’s subsequent claim that Ivins was the sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks when there is no credible evidence he was even involved.

  • The evidence so far produced by the FBI/DOJ is far from conclusive and would never stand up in court against a living defendant.
  • USAMRIID continues to dribble out emails on a schedule one can only believe has been purposely slowed.
  • The NAS study has not been released, nor has any of the testimony received by them been made public.
  • Congressman Holt’s proposed Anthrax Commission has gone nowhere.

Will we ever know the truth?


Tuesday, April 24, 2007 12:26 PM … From Bruce Ivins to ??? (not revealed by USAMRIID)

Hi, Would there be retrievable records for the months of September and October in 2001 for Facilities Management (Building Engineers) events in and such as: 1) Airlock Decons, 2) Suite Decons ( was apparently cleaned and deconned in this timeframe.) 3) Coldroom or Freezer alarms or breakdowns 4) Other events. Any information you could provide us regarding the above would be most helpful. Thanks very much! -bruce


Tuesday, April 24, 2007 1:03 PM … From ??? (not revealed by USAMRIID) To Bruce Ivins

We have hard records for the decons for 1) each suite and 2) airlocks. I will see if can pull these together for you. Regarding cold room and freezer alarms, these are not kept this far back. What are you looking for exactly?


Thursday, May 10, 2007 9:44 AM … From ??? (not revealed by USAMRIID) To Bruce Ivins

Bruce, I have to apologize that I forgot. Do you still need this info? Let me know.


Thursday, May 10, 2007 6:20:11 PM … From Bruce Ivins to ??? (not revealed by USAMRIID)

I already went to the grand jury, It’s too late for the information. -bruce


32 Responses to “* a truly pathetic interchange of emails between Dr. Bruce Ivins and a colleague (name withheld by USAMRIID) in the spring of 2007”

  1. DXer said

    You won’t be hearing about this email exchange in the made-for-tv series featuring Ivins emails tonight. Why not? Laziness? Incompetence? Careerist self-promotion by those who have promoted themselves by smearing Dr. Ivins?

  2. DXer said

    At page 46 of his civil deposition, Mr. Little notes: “Just scheduling the decon would have a paperwork trail associated with it.”

    Dr. Ivins had asked for the decon records but the person forgot the request until after Dr. Ivins’ grand jury appearance.

    The people responding to requests for documents often don’t understand that the importance that they locate and provide the documents.

  3. DXer said

    Dr. Ivins did not have available his emails from 2001 that reflected what he was doing.

    “3/25/2004 interview

    IVINS consulted with _________ at USAMRIID Computer Services and learned that electronic mail (email) can be retrieved for a two year period, however it is expensive to do so. If more than two years have passed, it is not possible to retrieve email.”

    Comment: Given that he held the largest single repository of Ames at the facility that had, by far, the largest number of Ames samples, the interview of Dr. Ivins in 2001 should have addressed the timeline of events and he should have been asked at the first interview to lay out a timeline of how he spent his time. It would have been a simple question in 2001 — at a time when he could have reconstructed events. “Show us you had an alibi…” Asking him to do so a half decade later — and not even providing him copies of the relevant documents (often taking the only copy) did not serve justice well.

    • DXer said

      Correction: There came a time within the course of the next year where he did obtain hard copies of some emails, including the September 17, 2001 email, which he gave to the FBI. They are in a folder associated with one of the 302s and so the one from September 17 will be especially easy for both USAMRIID and FBI to locate.

    • Old Atlantic said

      Perhaps they did an informal job of this in 2001/2002 and decided Ivins could not have done it. Then a different group came in later with their own ideas or own needs. I believe you have suggested this already as a general problem.

  4. DXer said

    Here is a report to Dr. Ivins about Edgewood’s capacity for making spores. What was its capacity in 2001?

    From: [redacted]
    Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 3:43 PM
    To: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID;
    Subject: Response from Edgewood (UNCLASSIFIED)

    I just had a nice conversation with at Edgewood. Here is the quick summary:

    (1) DPG apparently is in the middle of several “jobs” that have a higher priority than RIID, (2)
    Edgewood is very interested in collaborating with RIID and they are willing to provide bids for spore
    production work, (3) It is belief that just telling that we spoke with Edgewood will
    make DPG more responsive (they do not want to lose business), (4) Edgewood has a large fermentation
    capacity and they are nowhere near maximum production, (5) Edgewood’s fermenter inventory includes
    five 5-L, two 10-L, two 50-L, one 75-L, one 150-L, and one 1500-L.

    Maybe some of this information could be included in the PMC update. It appears to me that it may be
    to our advantage to consider a collaborative arrangement with Edgewood in the future. We don’t want
    to burn any bridges with DPG but a business arrangement with Edgewood has advantages.

  5. DXer said

    Add Dr. Gerry Higgins as Friend #23 who Ed has not bothered to email or call in trying to create the false impression that Dr. Ivins had few or no friends. Ed, is it research if rather than do research and make inquiry you merely make cotton candy arguments that support your beliefs?

    From a comment on the at-Largely blog:

    I have been a close friend of Dr. Bruce Ivins for years. The FBI needed a scapegoat, especially after Stephen Hatfill, whose foot the FBI ran over, won a $5.2 M lawsuit against them.

    The new FBI director needed a capture in this case. So, they took all of the Ft. Detrick anthrax researchers and put them under intense interrogation.

    Bruce was a mild, meek and sensitive scientist. The FBI showed his clinically depressed daughter, who was institutionalized in a mental hospital, photos of the anthrax victims, and said “your father did this.” They offered his son $2.5 M and a sportscar if he would “rat” on his father.

    Bruce could not stand stand up to the constant harrasment by the FBI. So we have lost a very talented researcher, so that the FBI can close the case…

    Posted by: Dr. Gerry Higgins | August 04, 2008 at

    • DXer said

      As evidence, Ed prominently cites and leads with the opinion of a co-worker who describes Ivins as his “an antagonist for years at USAMRIID.” Antagonist is defined as “a person who is opposed to, struggles against, or competes with another; opponent; adversary.”

      Why would Ed rely on an antagonist’s opinion of whether people were Dr. Ivins’ friend — rather than contacting the people themselves? (That is, if he doubts that they mean what they say when they express their friendship).

  6. DXer said

    Add Amanda Lane to the score of Ivins’ friends I’ve named who Ed never contacted and has not quoted in incorrectly asserting that the evidence indicates that he had few or no friends.

    Worked with and admired Ivins
    Originally published August 10, 2008

    “It is hard to watch as an honorable person is being slandered by people who know so little about him or his life. Rather than waste any time addressing untrue comments, I would like to tell you a little about this man who has blessed my life just by knowing him.

    I had the good fortune to know Bruce Ivins and now have a profound sadness at the loss of this friend. I am the typical loud American and I want to shout from the mountaintops that Bruce was the kind of man we look up to; the type of person who embodied all the qualities that we hope future generations of Americans possess.

    He was a decorated scientist and the humblest of men who didn’t use his title as a status symbol. He picked up a mop or emptied the trash without a moment’s hesitation. If he thought you were having a bad day he would offer candy or a catchy tune to cheer you up. If someone had to stay late to accomplish a task, Bruce would work with you so that the task would get completed faster.

    He was not the greatest athlete, but he was the best cheerleader present at every game to support his friends. I will truly miss his good humor, as there are few people in life who measure up to this man. I hope that he knew how much joy he brought to my life and others around him. If I learned anything from Bruce, it was to enjoy life and to always smile. His friendship brightened so many lives. I hope that Americans will remember Bruce for the funny and compassionate person that he was, because that is all Bruce knew how to be.


    Ed says he did not take notes on what his friends about him. He should now, however, quote what say they about him instead of falsely creating the opposite impression.

    • DXer said

      Add Jim Fregonara and Dr. Arthur Anderson to the group who thought of Dr. Ivins as a good friend. What does it make it? 22 friends — with Ed not having contacted any of them and yet trying to create the impression Bruce had few or no friends?

      Former Frederick resident Jim Fregonara took a continuing education class in juggling taught by Ivins.

      “I liked juggling so I stuck with it,” Fregonara said in a phone interview from his West Virginia home Monday. “Bruce had founded a little group called the Frederick Jugglers and I joined that.”

      The group, which Fregonara said had six or seven core members, performed at area nursing homes, schools and festivals such as In the Streets and the annual Koi Festival at Lilypons Water Gardens.

      “Bruce was a really good friend, a good juggler and very patient,” Fregonara said. “Teaching juggling isn’t very easy and Bruce was very patient with his students.”

      Fregonara and his wife were on vacation in Michigan when the news broke of Ivins’ death and suspected connection in the anthrax attacks.

      “I saw a local paper in Michigan and thought ‘this can’t be the Bruce I know,’ but it was,” he said.

      The Ivins Fregonara knew was “always singing, making jokes, a very funny entertainer.”

      Fregonara, who worked in a lab doing cancer research, said though he socialized with Ivins and they visited each other’s homes, they never discussed Ivins’ work.

      “I knew he worked in a lab and he knew I worked in a lab, but we knew each other socially — I knew him on the outside, so to speak,” Fregonara said.

      Arthur Anderson, a medical doctor, scientist, friend and former Fort Detrick colleague of Ivins, said adoption was the reason he got to know Ivins outside the work environment.

      “Bruce and Diane and my wife and I adopted children around the same time,” Anderson said Sunday. “Bruce had a tremendous personal warmth and had the utmost of concern and caring for his family and friends.”

      Ivins kept an eye out for any publication addressing adoption, and particularly independent adoptions that were overturned in courts, Anderson said. The two men shared information and concern for each other’s family.

      Fregonara recalled an act on Ivins’ part that he said was typical of his friend’s generosity and caring.

      He and he wife flew into Baltimore-Washington International Airport after a vacation to find their transportation plans to get home to Frederick had fallen through.

      “I called Bruce from the airport, and he dropped everything and went to Baltimore to pick us up and take us home,” Fregonara said. “One phone call to Bruce, and he took care of us — that’s how he was.”

      Ivins helped Fregonara celebrate his 30th birthday 25 years ago. Pictures show a happy group celebrating one of life’s milestones.

      “I just can’t believe he did what they’re saying,” Fregonara said. “It just doesn’t seem like him at all — it’s just a totally different person.”

  7. DXer said

    As another example, one Army scientist, Lt. Col Bret Purcell, struggled to maintain composure as spoken of Ivin’s unyielding dedication to the people who worked with him.

    There are many colleagues and friends, such as Patricia Worsham, who are very responsive to emails from researchers. Yet Mr. Lake says the evidence indicates Dr. Ivins was friendless. Folks from USAMRIID have no difficulty filling in the redacted names and any serious researcher spending his days researching the matter would have done so by now. Ed has not even interviewed Pat Fellows and Mara Linscott.

    Other friends online easily reached by Mr. Lake include Meryl, Russell, Martin and Paul. Yet Ed does not make the most basic inquiry and purports to be starting a book beginning with a chapter about how the evidence indicates that Dr. Ivins had no or few friends! Based on interviews of the full range of USAMRIID employees. Ha!

    Some people wear their insecurity on their sleeve and yet are much liked and respected by many. That is shown to be the case of Dr. Bruce Ivins.

    Similarly, some people keep their sexual pecadillos secret and are ashamed of them while others publish websites and flaunt them.

    It’s Ivins’ “heart of gold” (see interview) that people were responding to him with feelings of friendship and respect. He was the kind of guy who would stay late to help a co-worker finish up their project.

    • DXer said

      Russel Byrne’s wife, Ellen Byrne, remembered Ivins’ sense of humor.

      “He would sing songs, make up songs,” she said. “He was a nice guy, just always very upbeat and funny.”

      • DXer said

        That is why USAMRIID is withholding the post-November 2007 emails. They would reflect that the same thing that happened to Dr. Hatfill was happening to dr. Ivins.

        “”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.

        • DXer said

          As Dr. Ayaad Assad said of Bruce Ivins: “Bruce Ivins is an honorable man. We’re good friends.”

          Dr. Assad told the Washington Post: “Bruce Ivins was a victim of a vicious plot.”

          But rather than quoting these named good friends of Bruce Ivins — let alone contacting them and interviewing them — Ed Lake claims the opposite is established by the evidence. (Dr. Assad is also online).

        • DXer said

          The list of Dr. Ivins’ friends is long indeed. It is sad that his emotional frailties caused him to be insecure in the warm regard others felt for him.

          “They haven’t got a real case,” claimed Kathleen O’Connor, who met Ivins when they worked as Red Cross volunteers. “It’s all circumstantial. There’s just no way he could do it… They grabbed a convenient person.”

          John Barnard, who worked with Ivins from 1992-94 at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease, also defended his ex-colleague.

          “My experience of him during that time is that he was a very loving, giving man, and this doesn’t make sense at all,” said Barnard, who came to the service from his home in Pittsburgh.

  8. DXer said

    Ed hasn’t even spoken or emailed or tried to contact — or even mentioned the names of — Dr. Ivins’ good friends, Dr. Patricia Fellows and Dr Mara Linscott, with whom he kept in close contact long after they left USAMRIID.

    • DXer said

      They were both thanked for providing technical assistance by the DARPA-funded former Zawahiri associate provided virulent Ames by Dr. Ivins, and so what they say and what they told the FBI would be especially interesting.

      At what point did they stop being Dr. Ivins’ friend (if that is the case) and why? Was Pat angry at Bruce for reading her emails in which she said something unflattering to Mara about him? Was Mara put upon by the unwanted romantic interest?

      And if we are going to be diverted by Ed’s exercise of counting friends — and mistakenly thinking that relevant to the true crime analysis — should we include the two wonderful undercover FBI agents on the cruise with Dr. Ivins in the summer of 2007? Was their friendliness just for the purpose of causing him emotional upset due to a sense of betrayal?

      And when is the USAMRIID going to produce the exculpatory matters that show the horror wrought by the November 2007 email from the superior to Bruce’s friends and colleagues ordering that they have no contact with their friend by any means. How do you think being socially isolated from his many friends at work made him feel?

      When Hoover used the 1960s-era civil rights photographer (see this weeks’ news) as an informant on civil rights matters as part of COINTELPRO, was he being part of the problem or part of the solution?

  9. DXer said

    Without any evidence of the crime, Ed is forced to try to falsely claim that the evidence indicates that Dr. Ivins had no or few friends (as if that would somehow be relevant to the analysis and make up for the lack of evidence).

    You won’t find Ed quoting on his page the views of his friends and esteemed colleagues.

    In contrast, here is an example of the high regard that Dr. Ivins friends and esteemed professional colleagues had for him:

    “In addition to his research, Bruce was an enthusiastic teacher, coworker, and mentor to his technicians, students, and colleagues. Finally, he also was a skilled poet, songwriter, and musician; a dedicated volunteer for the American Red Cross; and a long-term parishioner at St. John’s Catholic Church in Frederick, Md., where he served as musician for many years. His colleagues and friends will remember him not only for his dedication to his work, but also for his humor, curiosity, and great generosity. In tribute to the latter, contributions in Bruce Ivins’ memory can be made to the American Red Cross, Frederick County Chapter, Frederick, Md.

    Susan Welkos
    Arthur Friedlander
    Patricia Worsham
    Stephen Little
    Bacteriology Division
    Frederick, Md.”

  10. DXer said

    On the question of how many friends Bruce had, Ed now writes:

    “First of all, I didn’t say that Ivins had few or no friends. I said that the documented opinions of his co-workers seemed to agree on several things, among them that Ivins had “few or no friends.”
    So, which is right, the documented, confidential opinions of his co-workers or what is written about him in the media after his death?”

    Ed again is mistaken. Co-workers and friends of Dr. Ivins who are online and who can be reached by email include Gerard, Jeff, and Henry. Ed is relying instead on people who did not know him well and that Ed cannot even name.

    If you do not know someone, it is not surprising you don’t know his friends.

    I have no idea why Ed has not been in contact with Dr. Ivins’ friends so that he could get do better in getting his facts straight.

    For example, I’ve known Ed on a daily basis for 10 years and could not name any of his friends. My confidential report to the FBI that he has no or few friends would not be reliable.

    Instead, the people who show up at his funeral and knew him would be able to reliably confirm he had many friends.

    Ed has given no indication that he has even read Dr. Ivins emails that were recently produced so as to put in context his most recent remarks, to include his personnel review of one subordinate.

    We should all be so lucky to have so many people come to our funeral.

    It’s one thing to accuse a fellow not here to defend himself of murder.

    It’s another to say he had no friends when Gerard, Jeff, Henry, Paul, Martin, Ellen, church members, juggling club members, Red Cross volunteers and others stand ready to explain he is mistaken.

  11. DXer said

    Ed Lake claims Dr. Ivins “he had few or no friends.” That is not true. It is true, however, that Ed has no contact with Dr. Ivins’ numerous friends — most of whom (highly educated professionals who, unlike Ed, know Dr. Ivins and the science) think he is innocent.

    Ed also thought and argued for 7 years that silica would not be used to “weaponize’ anthrax because it made it heavier. (The reason for the silicon signal here is immaterial to Ed’s confusion).

    Ed also thought the genetics pinpointed Dr. Ivins — rather than 200-300.

    Quite simply, on all the most central questions, Ed is provably mistaken. On the friends issue, he says he didn’t make note of what Ivins’ friends said. Moreover, Ed never corrects his errors when pointed out to him. For example, you can watch as Ed continues to argue that Dr. Ivins had few or no friends because that supports his unsupported claim of murder.

    Friends, colleagues gather to remember Bruce Ivins
    Originally published August 10, 2008

    By Nicholas C. Stern
    News-Post Staff

    For Betty Aydinel, Bruce Ivins will always be remembered as a kind and gentle person.

    Aydinel, who volunteered with Ivins at the FrederickCounty chapter of the American Red Cross for more than five years, joined dozens of family, friends and colleagues Saturday morning at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Frederick for Ivins’ memorial service.


    Aydinel said she didn’t believe the accusations about him. The FBI itself should be under investigation for its handling of the case, she said.


    “He was a talented musician, funny and entertaining,” she said.


    Russell Byrne, who attended Saturday’s service, worked with Ivins in United States Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases’ bacteriology division from about 1993 to 2000, and acted as his supervisor from 1998 to 2000.

    During that time period, he said he didn’t notice any erratic behavior from Ivins, nor did he receive complaints from others.

    “If there had been problems with him getting along with people, I would have heard about it,” Byrne said. “I can’t imagine he had anything to do with the anthrax letters. I never seriously considered it, just from what I knew about him and how the place worked.”

    Though there were many people at the service who were closer to Ivins, Byrne said he was a friend and a fellow parishioner. He attended St. John’s 11 a.m. services once or twice a month to hear Ivins play the keyboard.

    “He knew a lot of people,” Byrne said. “I was surprised. There was a lot to his life …

    Byrne said Ivins’ memorial was reassuring. Readings from the Rev. Richard Murphy from the books of Job, Romans and Matthew were mostly about being at peace with others and the bonds people make that don’t end in death.

    “It was clear that he wasn’t being abandoned by the people that knew him or his parish,” Byrne said.

    • DXer said

      Ed mistakenly claims that Dr. Ivins had no few friends. We all should be so fortunate as to have so many friends.

      “Ivins’s Friends, Family Recall the Good Times; Eulogies for Md. Scientist Focus on His Devotion to Children, Serving Church

      The Washington Post – Washington, D.C. Author: Aaron C Davis – Washington Post Staff Writer Date: Aug 10, 2008 Start Page: A.5 Section: A SECTION Text Word Count: 666

      Ivins’s Friends, Family Recall the Good Times

      Eulogies for Md. Scientist Focus on His Devotion to Children, Serving Church

      By Aaron C. Davis
      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Sunday, August 10, 2008

      Hundreds of friends, colleagues and fellow churchgoers who knew Bruce E. Ivins as a dedicated father, jokester and brilliant scientist — not as the government’s alleged anthrax terrorist — paid their final respects yesterday in Frederick.

      The packed sanctuary where Ivins had played keyboards and piano for decades filled with laughter as friends and relatives recalled stories of Ivins losing backyard soccer games to his children, juggling and singing, and playing practical jokes on his co-workers.

      Hundreds of friends, colleagues and fellow churchgoers who knew Bruce E. Ivins …

  12. DXer said

    Like the batch #80 released today, the next batches released will have nothing that supports the FBI’s claim that Ivins was the processor or the mailer.

  13. DXer said

    From batch #80 released today, Dr. Ivins writes on August 15, 2007:

    Subject: Re: Fire Alarm, 3 Aug 07 (UNCLASSIFIED)

    The One million (Tax free) dollar question is who made a decision to put a30 sec delay on the doors
    and WHY wasn’t anyone informed about it? Until this incident I and no one I have talked to was aware
    that a 30 sec. delay had been implemented. That certainly would have (and will now) generate a
    discussion at the next Safety meeting.

    Our Safety/Biosurity officer has a real credibility issue when safety is compromised for
    (b) (6) security and for no apparent reason, let alone communicated to us. (b) sure doesn’t seem to have any (6)
    problem jumping on someone for improper glove use. If the whole bunch doesn’t get sued over this one they’re lucky. This was a real screw-up.

    • DXer said

      From: To: Cc: Subject: Date: Attachments:
      Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
      FW: Fire Alarm, 3 Aug 07 (UNCLASSIFIED) Wednesday, August 15, 2007 1:02:53 PM

      Classification: UNCLASSIFIED Caveats: NONE

      Is OSHA aware that people who push an emergency door here to get out are trapped for 30 seconds before they can escape? What if there’s a flash fire? What if some other emergency occurs (spillage of a toxic chemical like formaldehyde or ammonia)? Also, people who are running for their lives are supposed to stop and call 911? All the fire department advice I’ve ever seen says that people should get out of the building FIRST, then go to a safe building and call 911.


      Bruce Ivins

  14. DXer said

    1. Dr. Patricia Fellows was Dr. Ivins close colleague at his lab who left in 2002 for SRI to head the BL-3 there. It was her departure and loss of her great expertise that Dr. Ivins in the email produced last week was bemoaning to the two undercover FBI agents who accompanied him and his brother on the 2007 cruise.

    The vaccine research that Patricia Fellows was doing that was published in a chapter in the LSU thesis involved enhancing virulence by inserting duplicate copies of the virulence plasmids of x101 and x102. (Forgive any error in my lay understanding and description). Both were thanked by former Zawahiri associate supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins in numerous patents. The LSU PhD candidate was very close to the FBI genetics expert Kimothy who then took copies of the LSU holdings to Paul Keim’s lab. The former Zawahiri associated worked at both the LSU BL-3 lab and USAMRIID’s BL-3 lab with Dr. Fellows and Dr. Ivins doing work funded by DARPA.

    The FBI has relied heavily on personal communications between Dr. Ivins and Former Colleague #1 and #2 — Dr. Mara Linscott and Dr. Patricia Fellows.

    What light can they shed on the government’s theory that Dr. Ivins is responsible? None of the work emails produced in dribbles by the government in the past 2 years — and according to my source of intelligence none currently being held — support the claim.

    2. What classified research was bionformatics graduate student Ali Al-Timimi doing for the Navy? For what research did Al-Timimi get a commendation from the White House?

    3. What aerosol testing did the Navy do in 2001 involving ships?

    4. When did SRI first obtain virulent Ames?

    5. How many copies of x101 and x102 plasmid did the attack anthrax have?
    PLoS One. 2010 Aug 25;5(8). pii: e12397.

    Rapid Identification of Genetic Modifications in Bacillus anthracis Using Whole Genome Draft Sequences Generated by 454 Pyrosequencing.

    Chen PE, Willner KM, Butani A, Dorsey S, George M, Stewart A, Lentz SM, Cook CE, Akmal A, Price LB, Keim PS, Mateczun A, Brahmbhatt TN, Bishop-Lilly KA, Zwick ME, Read TD, Sozhamannan S.

    Naval Medical Research Center, Biological Defense Research Directorate, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States of America.


    BACKGROUND: The anthrax letter attacks of 2001 highlighted the need for rapid identification of biothreat agents not only for epidemiological surveillance of the intentional outbreak but also for implementing appropriate countermeasures, such as antibiotic treatment, in a timely manner to prevent further casualties. It is clear from the 2001 cases that survival may be markedly improved by administration of antimicrobial therapy during the early symptomatic phase of the illness; i.e., within 3 days of appearance of symptoms. Microbiological detection methods are feasible only for organisms that can be cultured in vitro and cannot detect all genetic modifications with the exception of antibiotic resistance. Currently available immuno or nucleic acid-based rapid detection assays utilize known, organism-specific proteins or genomic DNA signatures respectively. Hence, these assays lack the ability to detect novel natural variations or intentional genetic modifications that circumvent the targets of the detection assays or in the case of a biological attack using an antibiotic resistant or virulence enhanced Bacillus anthracis, to advise on therapeutic treatments.

    METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We show here that the Roche 454-based pyrosequencing can generate whole genome draft sequences of deep and broad enough coverage of a bacterial genome in less than 24 hours. Furthermore, using the unfinished draft sequences, we demonstrate that unbiased identification of known as well as heretofore-unreported genetic modifications that include indels and single nucleotide polymorphisms conferring antibiotic and phage resistances is feasible within the next 12 hours.

    CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Second generation sequencing technologies have paved the way for sequence-based rapid identification of both known and previously undocumented genetic modifications in cultured, conventional and newly emerging biothreat agents. Our findings have significant implications in the context of whole genome sequencing-based routine clinical diagnostics as well as epidemiological surveillance of natural disease outbreaks caused by bacterial and viral agents.

    • DXer said

      The FBI genetics expert Kimothy, doing the testing in 2002, was thanked in numerous patents by the former Zawahiri associate Tarek for providing BL-3 space at LSU for DARPA-funded research involving virulent anthrax.

      Did FBI genetics expert Kimothy test the sample submitted by Dr. Ivins’ group? Dr. Ivins in his emails expresses great consternation at the results and finds it impossible.

      Putting aside the merits of the genetics question, was there a conflict of interest? What are the conflicts of interest or appearance issues that apply? Would a conflict of interest be appropriately viewed under the rubric of “contamination”?

      If an investigation is highly compartmentalized, who is in a position to vet conflicts of interest? By analogy, at a law firm, if matters were highly compartmentalized, would it be possible to vet conflicts?

      Relatedly, if a federal judge serving on the NAS panel, who is highly expert and experienced on matters relating to admissibility, is provided only documents relating to science and not the underlying investigative documents, is he in a position to meaningfully address questions of admissibility under Daubert or otherwise?

      If the head of the science investigation was the collection scientist at ATCC’s bacteriology division to which Al-Timimi had unfettered access (ATCC co-sponsored Ali’s program), does he have a conflict?

      If the other head of the science was head biodefense with the Navy, does he have a conflict? Did Al-Timimi work on one of the projects he oversaw?

      If the lead prosecutor’s daughter was representing Al-Timimi for free, is that a conflict? If the family are Palestinian activists, would that constitute a conflict?

      Is the issue of conflicts of interest within the assigned task of the NAS? Or is it narrowly tasked so as to not include conflicts of interest. Who for the government shaped the scope of the NAS tasks?

      • DXer said

        If the father of Al-Timimi’s pro bono counsel was the lead prosecutor who pled the Fifth Amendment about the hyped Hatfill leaks, does that sharpen a conflict of interest?

        When the former FBI head of counterterrorism wrote me and said that Amerithrax was a mess — in response to my emailed inquiry asking if the FBI was aware that Bruce Ivins supplied virulent anthrax to a former Zawahiri associate — to what was he referring?

        Would it make it okay if FBI Director Mueller finally briefed Senator Leahy on these matters in a classified briefing?

        Are all the people who have made money while contributing to the mess, are they going to give the money back?

  15. DXer said

    In this case study, the defense counsel argues that the FBI created a situation where the criminal had a motivation to continue to try to cause trouble in Upstate NY mosques in order to be able to wear designer clothes, drive a Hummer and BMW.

    “This is a work of fiction,” defense counsel said. “It’s not a documentary.”

    The unspoken question not raised by defense counsel: Wouldn’t the FBI’s time be better spent trying to make the world’s biggest cannoli?

    As in the Albany imam case, defense counsel questions how often might a stinger missile case where the perp is financially motivated never get off the ground had it not been for the criminal working for the FBI to instigate crimes.

    The broader policy question implicated is: Has the FBI and CIA and United States Army, on balance, made the world more or less safe after 911? Consider the handling of Aafia Siddiqui’s case, for example, which has become a rallying cause for angry young men. Or consider the invasion of Iraq based on faulty intelligence analysis. If the US had captured Bin Laden at Tora Bora instead of diverting for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, as Michael Scheuer advised, might the FBI have been able to have its informants driving only economy cars? Shouldn’t the FBI instead take care to do better analysis and not rely so heavily on financial motivated criminals?
    Informer Says Defendant Wanted to Be a Martyr


    Published: August 27, 2010

    He told a federal prosecutor, David Raskin, that he had been arrested three times in Pakistan on politically-motivated charges, including murder…

    His work with the government started after he himself was caught in a federal sting. In 2003, while he was working as a translator for the Department of Motor Vehicles, he said, he illegally helped people in the Albany area get driver’s licenses and pleaded guilty to fraud. In a deal with the F.B.I., he was sentenced to probation and time served and worked with federal agents on more than 20 cases, he testified.

    In 2007, FBI agents sent him to mosques in upstate New York, where his assignment was “to listen, to hear, to talk with the attendees.” [ The FBI gave Pakistani immigrant Shahed Hussain $44,000 for expenses and $53,000 for “his services” over a three-year period, agent Robert Fuller said.]

    He described himself as a moderate Muslim who had not gone to a mosque, outside of work, “in a very long time.” But under the direction of the F.B.I., he went to weekly Friday prayers, wearing designer clothes and driving a Hummer or a BMW.

  16. DXer said

    #79 I mixed up my FBI undercovers and/or informants in describing this email from the batch released Friday.

    The two on the cruise were female FBI agents, not the husband and wife he knew from years earlier. See Henry Heine interview in which he could have figured that they were agents by googling.

    Dr. Ivins is sending pictures of cute puppies to the undercovers. Ha! He’s a man after my own heart.

    Now given the Task Force apparently was compartmentalized, these agents might not have known squat of relevance. So the only effect was to take every moment of respite (his vacation with his brother on the cruise) from the stress of the investigation and turn it to mud. Not nice.

    An agent in this situation permitting themselves to operate with compartmentalized information are just as likely to be acting to undermine justice rather than to further it.

    From:Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
    Back to work (UNCLASSIFIED) Saturday, August 04, 2007 1:48:49 PM

    Hi, again, and I’m writing you from work. I just got in and checked my voicemails and emails. The workbnever(6s)eems to end, even when we go away for awhile. We have to take lots and lots of official training), and the paperwork gets more and more oppressive.

    We have several projects going on in our laboratory. Because of funding cutbacks in the last few years
    we’ve had to switch what we’ve been working on quite a bit. It used to be totally focused on anthrax
    vaccine research, but now we’re basically just making anthrax spores for other research labs to use in their experiments. We’re also studying how to improve the quality of anthrax spores. I had somebody working with me for 14 years who was just superb in the laboratory, but she left in 2002, and it’s been a struggle to try to bring the lab back to the level where it used to be. There are currently three people in the lab – myself and two others.
    I have some pictures to send you to hopefully bring you some smiles. I really hope to hear from you, but if you’d rather I wouldn’t email you, please let me know, and I won’t bother you. Thanks again for helping to make my cruise so enjoyable. You are both wonderful people. Have a fine week!!!!!!!


  17. richard rowley said

    One additional thing that should be brought up: the gag order for USAMRIID employees. Has it been lifted? If not, why not?
    I was unaware of the gag order until I heard Dr Henry Heine’s radio interviews. That was HIS first opportunity to speak freely (ie as an EX-USAMRIID employee).

    Can we safely assume that FBI agents, postal inspectors and anyone else still employed by the Feds is under a gag order too?

    And what does it say about the government’s case against Ivins if such a gag order is necessary?

    • DXer said

      “For nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest, nor anything hidden that shall not be made known and come to light.”

      –Bruce Ivins, dated June 20, 2007 email

      Below is an example of material that is subject to FOIA but has not been provided by USAMRIID (it was an attachment and thus part of what should have been produced):

      “please see the adobe acrobat file enclosed – that included

      a) 5 FEB 2002 Response to subpoena from ;

      2) subpoenas and attachments from dated February 15, 2002;

      3) Letter from dated March 5, 2002;

      4) memorandum from ____________ on 6 MAR 02;

      5) subpoena from ______________ dated March 1, 2002;

      6) “Attachment B” containing the USAMRIID B. anthracis agent registry (only the first page of Attachment B is included in the adobe acrobat file enclosure);

      7) “Attachment C” containing a list of samples submitted to the FBI repository (only the first page of Attachment C is included in the adobe acrobat file enclosure).

  18. DXer said

    The Fall and Winter 2007 emails will be integrated into this analysis.

    The documents being withheld and delayed by the FBI prove Dr. Ivins’ innocence.

    If the National Academy of Sciences does not address the report on the photocopy toner, then that the Academy did not fulfill its charge.


    Anthrax, Al Qaeda, Anwar Aulaqi and Ayman: The Infiltration of US Biodefense

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