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

* what is going on with the NAS study of the FBI’s anthrax science?

Posted by DXer on August 25, 2010


The FBI’s case against Dr. Ivins is clearly 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 perhaps more plausible than the FBI’s unproven assertions.

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *


NAS Publications


Using the web-based Request For Information from the Public Access Records Office, I today asked NAS the following questions …

  • What is the status of the NAS review of the FBI’s anthrax science?
  • Are any more meetings scheduled?
  • Have any preliminary reports been issued?
  • When will the final report be issued?

To refresh your memories …

  • the official title of the study is … Review of the Scientific Approaches used During the FBI’s Investigation of the 2001 Bacillus Anthracis Mailings
  • The project began April 24, 2009 and has a duration of 18 months (i.e., until October 24, 2010)
  • The last meeting was June 2, 2010, after which no announcement was made.


65 Responses to “* what is going on with the NAS study of the FBI’s anthrax science?”

  1. DXer said

    Friend #41 that Ed never contacted in trying to smear Dr. Ivins as having few or no friends would be Norman Covert, who is very responsive to emails (and is very knowledgeable about USAMRIID history).

    March 12, 2010

    Ivins Minus the Technicolor

    Norman M. Covert

    [This is the second of two commentaries regarding the late Dr. Bruce Ivins of Fort Detrick]

    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.


    In the mid-80s a former local pastor’s mistrust was allayed after he served a term as community member of the institute’s human use committee. Its professionalism, thorough review and consideration for Medical Research Volunteer Subjects (MRVS) changed his thinking.

    This writer and a local farmer/doctor of veterinary medicine served more than a decade together as non-scientific and community members, respectively, of the Institute’s Animal Care and Use Committee (LACUC).

    Both committees reviewed protocols with a critical eye. Dr. Ivins presented 18-page protocol No. 01-28 before the LACUC in June 2001, seeking to take anthrax vaccine research another step forward.

    Dr. Ivins was professional and quick to answer detailed challenges, earning the committee’s approval. He proposed to use a strain of B. anthracis drawn from the original Ames stock at USAMRIID, not RMR 1029, which the Justice Department says was basis for the letter spores.

    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.

    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.”

    • DXer said

      He has written a history on USAMRIID which I recommend to you.

      Cutting Edge: A History of Fort Detrick, Maryland [Hardcover]
      Norman M Covert (Author)

    • DXer said

      Friend #42, John Barnard, is knowledgeable on this question of financial incentive. (Accusers have no theory of motive that makes sense).

      John Barnard posted his views articulately in August 2008 both at the funeral and on Meryl Nass’ blog. He stands behind his views today which he can further elaborate.

      “From 1992 through 1995, I worked with Dr. Bruce Ivins at Fort Detrick where he helped me develop anthrax vaccines during my postdoctoral research. Despite reports that he threatened a social worker and verbally threatened coworkers shortly before his death, everything in me tells me that Bruce would not and could not have perpetrated the 2001 anthrax attacks.

      A Los Angeles Times article has accused Bruce of performing the attack so that he could profit from a vaccine he patented. This accusation is absurd. The US government routinely patents work that might eventually be marketable and these products almost never become developed or sold. Even if one of Bruce’s vaccines had been mass produced, the primary beneficiaries would have been the producer and the government, not Bruce.

      The accusation that Bruce was motivated by greed is also absurd to anyone who knew him. I never heard Bruce talk about money or getting rich. His life was about the work that he loved and the people he loved. Although he could be irritable, he was usually jovial and he was always the first person I turned to when I had problems with my anthrax project. His knowledge went well beyond what I could find in published studies and his enthusiasm made him seem younger than me even though he was 15 years older.

      Bruce’s love for his work has led some people to accuse him of perpetrating the attack as a way to promote the research he was doing, which is also absurd. The collapse of the Soviet Union and its biological weapons program did lead to cutbacks at Fort Detrick; however, Bruce’s job was never in danger and the cutbacks were reversed due to fears that unemployed Soviet bioweapons experts were being hired by Saddam Hussein and other potential enemies.

      According to information obtained by the Washington Post, the case against Bruce relies heavily on circumstantial evidence and I believe that federal investigators have erred gravely. They have used complex and expensive DNA sequencing methods to collect evidence that points at Bruce; however, I think that their enthusiasm over finally finding a suspect has caused them to end their investigation prematurely. They have followed one trail but have only looked for what they wanted to find. I want to see their evidence because I believe that a critical analysis of it will show that they stopped far too soon and have pushed an innocent man to his death.

      Dr. Nass, thank you for talking about the man we knew who we still respect. I hope that the truth will be told.

      John Barnard, Ph.D.
      Pittsburgh, PA”

    • DXer said

      What Dr. Ivins — and the audio is online — calmly and politely said is that he couldn’t understand why she signed papers for involuntary commitment. He explained that if she thought a stay there would do him good, if she had suggested it, he would have been glad to sign himself in. The Wikipedia entry is inaccurate and should have instead recounted what he said and said that Jean thought it was intimidating. She is in Frederick and is available to answer any questions clarifying some details. For example, while under house arrest in in late Spring / early Summer for DWI, was she allowed to go to work to meet with her clients trying to overcome their addiction to alcohol? Did she share with her group that she was under house arrest for DWI and cooperating with the FBI? Did cooperation with the FBI help her on her sentencing?

  2. DXer said

    • SEPTEMBER 16, 2010, 1:40 PM ET

    GAO to Take Look at FBI Anthrax Probe

    By Evan Perez

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s eight-year probe of the 2001 anthrax attacks has left many doubters. Now lawmakers are ordering another look at the FBI’s investigation.

    The Government Accountability Office says it will conduct an examination of some of the science behind the FBI’s conclusion that government scientist Bruce Ivins was the sole person who carried out the attacks. A separate review of the FBI’s work, by the National Academy of Scientists, is expected to be completed this fall.

    The GAO examination came at the request of Rep. Rush Holt (D., N.J.), an outspoken skeptic of the FBI’s work in the case. “The American people need credible answers to many questions raised by the original attacks and the subsequent FBI handling of the case,” Holt said in a statement.

    Five people died and 17 others were sickened by anthrax mailings in September and October 2001, which caused alarm among Americans on edge following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Authorities said at least five envelopes containing the bacteria that causes anthrax were mailed to news organizations in New York and Florida and to the offices of Sens. Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle.

    After initial missteps, including focusing on the wrong person, the case remained unsolved for years. The FBI closed it in February with the formal finding that the sole person responsible was Ivins, the government scientist who was the focus of the investigation when he committed suicide in July 2008. For more on the case, click here and here.

  3. DXer said

    GAO to look into FBI’s handling of Ivins’ probe
    Originally published September 16, 2010 – Updated 12:19 PM, September 16, 2010

    By Megan Eckstein
    News-Post Staff

    The Government Accountability Office will investigate the FBI’s scientific methods used to conclude Fort Detrick researcher Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator in the 2001 anthrax attacks.
    U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, who represents the New Jersey district from which the letters were mailed, requested the GAO’s involvement after the FBI announced it had closed its Amerithrax investigation in February.

    Holt had also requested that several House committees question the FBI’s methods and results. The GAO investigation will be the first congressionally directed review of the FBI’s case; another review, done by the National Academy of Sciences, was requested by the FBI itself.

    Specifically, the GAO investigation will seek to answer three main questions:

    n what forensic methods did the FBI use to conclude Ivins was the sole perpetrator, and how reliable are those methods?

    n what scientific concerns and uncertainties still remain regarding the FBI’s conclusion?

    n what agencies monitor foreign containment labs, and how do they monitor those labs?

    “The American people need credible answers to many questions raised by the original attacks and the subsequent FBI handling of the case,” Holt said in a press release. “I’m pleased the GAO has responded to our request and will look into the scientific methods used by the FBI.”

  4. DXer said

    The Washington Daybook

    On September 20, 2010, the Ripon Society will hold a conference on “From 9/11 to Anthrax: The State of Homeland Security Nine Years After the Attacks.”

    TIME: 11:45 a.m.

    LOCATION: CVC, Congressional Meeting Room South, U.S. Capitol

    CONTACT: 202-216-1008

    PARTICIPANTS: Rep. Charles Dent, R-Pa., member of the House Homeland Security Committee; former Homeland Security Secretary and former Gov. Tom Ridge, R-Pa.; and Frances Townsend, former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush

    For background, read the fully viewable

    Anthrax and Al Qaeda: Infiltration of US Biodefense

    • DXer said

      Separately, as I best recall some of the details, there will be a conference on November 29 on the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings. It is sponsored by a top university and held in DC. It features, for example, Scott Shane, former top FBI lab scientist Dr. Randall Murch, Attorney (for the late Bruce Ivins) Paul Kemp, author Leonard Cole, Serge Popov, authors Peter Katona and Michael Intriligator and others at a conference. Current scientists/investigators/officials of the FBI have been invited. Presumably either a videotape or transcript will be uploaded. But it would be worth traveling to DC to see and participate in the audience.

      There will be a book out on the subject in November.

      • DXer said

        The book coming out in November is by Nicholas Bergman, ed. Anthrax and Bacillus anthracis.

        The publisher describes the book:

        “The study of Bacillus Anthracis remains at the forefront of microbiology research because of its potential use as a bioterror agent and its role in shaping our understanding of bacterial pathogenesis and innate immunity. Bacillus Anthracis and Anthraxprovides a comprehensive guide to all aspects of the organism, ranging from basic biology to public health issues associated with anthrax. This book will be a premier reference for B. Anthracis and anthrax to microbiologists, medical and public health professionals, bioterror research and preparedness, immunologists, and physiologists.”

  5. DXer said

    The National Academy of Sciences has explained in connection with the 2001 anthrax mailings:

    “For the case of biological agents, there also is the possibility of weaponization—engineering of the organism to improve its stability or other properties. In general, the weaponization begins with the growth of the agent (lag, log, and stationary phases each have unique properties mixed in with the culture media), then fermentation; centrifuging and separation; drying; milling for respirable particle size; additives to prevent aggregation and clumping, neutralize electrical charge, and increase survival in air; and microencapsulation for stability and viability. Each phase leaves physical and chemical clues that can help investigators to distinguish the agent substance from a normal background presence. Expertly prepared weapons are likely to be more resistant to natural attenuation and may be more resistant to decontamination….

    Characteristics of Biological Agents That May Affect Hazard Assessment
    The type of processing done before an agent is used as a weapon can alter how hazardous it is to humans and its persistence in the environment. This processing might be termed weaponization if it increases the ability of the agent to cause harm by making the agent more stable, more infectious, or better able to penetrate the human body. For agents that cause harm via inhalation, the size of the particles is crucial. Particle size also affects the ability of the agent to be aerosolized or reaerosolized.
    Knowing the particle size of the pathogenic agent is critical in determining its potential for dispersal, reaerosolization, and infectivity—especially if the agent is released and spread as an aerosol. The particle size distribution depends on the agent (e.g., spore, vegetative cell, viron), the degree of weaponization sophistication (e.g., electrically neutralized, finely milled, encapsulated), and aerosol transport mechanism (e.g., dry cells, wet aerosol). A crudely weaponized agent is likely to have a large particle size distribution that varies from single particles of 0.2-2 µm to clumps of many particles or liquid droplets as large as 30 µm. ..

    The dynamics of particle size retention depend on the flow rate, mass impaction, diffusion, and gravitational settling which are, in turn, related to the activity of the person, tidal volume, and oral versus nasal inhalation. Several modeling efforts have helped to explain those dynamics. Calculations by Yu and Diu (1983) for spherical uncharged particles in the lung showed good agreement with experimental data.”

    Secondary aerosolization of biological agents is a subject of great debate. The agent’s characteristics—its physical state (e.g., vegetative spore), particle size, shape, electrical charge, and hydrophobicity—are important.


    Question #1: Did the dried Ames anthrax simulant that the FBI’s anthrax expert JE tells he made for DARPA researchers have a silicon signal? (JE, although his posted blog comment offered to answer any questions and gave his telephone number and email, refuses to say when asked by email).

    Question #2: Was the dried Ames anthrax simulant that the FBI’s anthrax expert JE tells me he made for DARPA researchers microencapsulated? (JE, although his posted blog comment offered to answer any questions and gave his telephone number and email, refuses to say when asked by email).

    Question #3: The DARPA researchers, including a key FBI science consultant, used a Sonicator on Ames spores to test its effect. What is the effect on Ames spores? Would use of a sonicator make decontamination more difficult — and would it cause the particles to be self-dispersing? (The DARPA researchers, who included JE’s former assistant who moved to Johns Hopkins, refuse to say).

    Question #4: The DARPA researchers, including a key FBI science consultant, used a Corona Plasma Discharge on Ames spores to test its effect. What is the effect on the Ames spores? Would use of a Corona Plasma Discharge impart a charge to the particle and cause the particles to be self-dispersing? (The DARPA researchers, who included JE’s former assistant who moved to Johns Hopkins, refuse to say).

    • DXer said

      check out the background image in Ayman Zawahiri’s video this week – what does a frame by frame analysis show?

    • DXer said

      Purohit, M., Sassi-Gaha, S., Rest, R.F.
      Rapid sporulation of Bacillus anthracis in a high iron, glucose-free medium
      (2010) Journal of Microbiological Methods, 82 (3), pp. 282-287.

      Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Drexel University College of Medicine, 2900 Queen Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19129, United States

      Spores are the infectious form of Bacillus anthracis (BA), causing cutaneous, inhalation and gastrointestinal anthrax. Because of the possible use of BA spores in a bioterrorism attack, there is considerable interest in studying spore biology. In the laboratory, however, it takes a number of days to prepare spores. Standard sporulation protocols, such as the use of ‘PA broth’, allow sporulation of BA to occur in 3 to 5days. Another method employs growth of BA on plates in the dark for several days until they have efficiently sporulated. In efforts to determine the effect of iron on gene expression in BA, we grew BA Sterne strain 7702 in a minimal defined medium (CDM; Koppisch et al., 2005) with various concentrations of iron and glucose. As part of our initial observations, we monitored BA sporulation in CDM via light microscopy. In glucose-free CDM containing 1.5mM Fe(NO3)3 (CDM-Fe), >95% of the BA sporulated by 30h; a far shorter time period than expected. We pursued this observation and we further characterized spores derived from PA and CDM-Fe media. Purified spores derived from PA or CDM-Fe had similar morphologies when viewed by light or electron microscopy, and were equally resistant to harsh conditions including heat (65°C), ice and fresh 30% H2O2. Spore viability in long term cold storage in water was similar for the two spore preparations. Extracted spore coat proteins were evaluated by SDS-PAGE and silver staining, which revealed distinct protein profiles for PA and CDM-Fe spore coat extracts. ELISA assays were done to compare the interaction of the two spore preparations with rabbit antiserum raised against UV-killed Sterne strain 7702 spores prepared in PA medium. Spores from both media reacted identically with this antiserum. Finally, the interaction and fate of spores incubated with macrophages in vitro was very similar. In summary, BA spores induced in CDM-Fe or in PA medium are similar by several criteria, but show distinct extractable coat proteins. CDM-Fe liquid medium can be used for rapid production of BA spores, and could save considerable time in spore research studies. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

      Author Keywords
      Accelerated; Bacillus anthracis; Sporulation

  6. DXer said

    New Review of FBI’s Work in Anthrax Letters Case

    September 15, 2010, 2:51 PM ET

    By Devlin Barrett

    The investigative arm of Congress will take another look at the science the FBI used to determine who mailed deadly anthrax-laced letters in 2001.

    The Government Accountability Office has notified Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, that the agency will review the science behind the FBI’s conclusions that Army scientist Bruce Ivins sent the letters that killed five people.

    The letters were mailed from a mailbox in Princeton, N.J., which is in Holt’s district. The congressman has long maintained that the FBI’s work on the case was shoddy and full of holes. The FBI concluded Dr. Ivins was a disturbed man who sent the letters while his laboratory faced the prospect of losing support for its anthrax vaccine program.

    The National Academy of Sciences is in the midst of a two-year-review of the scientific work that led the FBI to finger Dr. Ivins after spending years chasing other suspects. Dr. Ivins took a fatal overdose of pills in 2008 as a federal grand jury prepared to indict him for the anthrax mailings.

    In a letter to Holt, GAO officials said they would conduct their review once the NAS reaches its conclusions, which is expected later this year.

    • DXer said

      GAO letter to Rush Holt

      Click to access GAO_Amerithrax_job_ltr_001.pdf

      • DXer said

        The NAS needs to be sure to address the photocopy toner issue to avoid being reamed.

        • BugMaster said

          And the significance of the FBI’s inability to isolate a strain of b. subtilis identical to the contaminant in the NYC mailings from anywhere in the vicinity of Fort Detrick.

      • DXer said

        An important element in the NAS report that should be included is a review of the extensive scientific work done by the FBI on isotopes.

        The FBI recently in other contexts concluded that “this approach is useful for discriminating between materials which are otherwise chemically identical.”
        Forensic Sci Int. 2010 Aug 20. [Epub ahead of print] Forensic utility of isotope ratio analysis of the explosive urea nitrate and its precursors.

        Aranda R 4th, Stern LA, Dietz ME, McCormick MC, Barrow JA, Mothershead RF 2nd.

        Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Quantico, VA 22135, United States.

        In the early years, according to the published report, the research was expected to be useful. Then it was discarded.
        For the NAS to have fulfilled its purpose, the panel should address this issue and explain why at the end of the day, it was not productive.

        An early press report *MSNBC” indicated that the lab had been narrowed to “Northeastern United States.”

  7. DXer said

    This issue goes not merely to the issue whether Bruce had lots of friends or not — it goes to the conflict of interest/contamination issue that needs to be addressed by the NAS.

    In support of his argument, Ed provides a link that takes you first to an article from the literature in which the former Zawahiri associate, Tarek Hamouda, thanks Shaun B. Jones, Jane Alexander, and Lawrence DuBoise (Defense Science Office, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) for their support; Bruce Ivins, Patricia Fellows, Mara Linscott, Arthur Friedlander (who cosigned the nice letter about Bruce previously posted), and the staff of USAMRIID for their technical support and helpful suggestions in the performance of the initial anthrax studies; Martin Hugh-Jones, Kimothy Smith (FBI genetics expert who worked on the sample submitted by Ivins), and Pamala Coker (a close friend of Kimothy who headed the BL-3 lab at LSU) for supplying the characterized B. anthracis strains and the space at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge)…

    Ed then points to a following interview discussing Dr. Ivins’ emotional frailties — totally clueless about who gave it given he has not contacted any of the former USAMRIID friends and colleagues of Dr. Ivins.

    If he was any sort of researcher, he would make relevant inquiries. For example, he could ask Dr. Hamouda about his connections to the Zawahiri family — to include Ayman’s sisters, to include Heba, the pharmacology professor in his microbiology department in 1996.

    Ed knows as little about Ayman Zawahiri’s good friends as he does of Bruce’s good friends.

    On the other hand, I quote people I’ve interviewed who knew Ayman Zawahiri and held him in high regard — both he and his family were well regarded and very influential at Cairo Medical.

    • DXer said

      Now in response to the 27 named friend who have publicly proclaimed their high regard for Dr. Ivins — and argued that the FBI must be mistaken — Ed seems to defend by saying it wasn’t him who said Dr. Ivins had no or few friends. Ed says he was just quoting what someone else [name redacted] said. That someone had worked with him and seemed to have been confided in him on private matters. Wasn’t that Former Colleague #2?

      Was it Pat Fellows saying that? If so, was she defensive about having been thanked by a former Zawahiri associate for providing technical assistance regarding work with virulent Ames in a BL-3? She headed a BL-3. Her former research involving duplicating virulence plasmids x101 and x102. It was published as a chapter in the thesis of LSU’s Pamala Coker, who also was thanked by Tarek. The New York Times reported the researchers (with Dr. Coker quoted) explaining that it could make a more effective bioweapons at the same time it might make a more effective vaccine. Dr. Coker runs a cat clinic and is also available online.

      • DXer said

        Let’s consider the opinion of someone who actually makes inquiries in getting his information. Here is the leading reporter Scott Shane of the New York Times being interviewed on NPR:

        “Mr. SHANE: Yeah, he was a – everyone recognized that he was sort of a quirky character. But a lot of people really liked him. He came across as a very caring person, he’d ask if someone had been out sick or had lost a relative. He kept Hershey’s kisses in his office and people would come by and get them. He was a juggler, as you mentioned. He also played the piano, and he would play a keyboard in his Catholic church on Sunday mornings and sometimes take it to an office party and liven things up. He sent lots of sort of joke emails around to friends. And you know, like any government bureaucracy – USAMRIID is the acronym for the United States Medical – Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases – it could be kind of a glum place, and people, I think generally liked Bruce Ivins.
        Mr. SHANE: That’s right. And they have some good reason to believe that. They knew him, not only as a human being, but they knew him as a scientist. And they have some sense of what went on in his lab and what was possible, what wasn’t. So, I think you certainly have to take their doubts seriously. Four of his colleagues who had worked very closely with him for many years, all of whom have Ph.d.s, wrote an obituary for the scientific journal Microbe that ran in November and praised him in very strong terms and didn’t mention the allegations that he was essentially a mass murderer. So, that gives you a sense of the depth of skepticism out there at Fort Detrick.”

        • DXer said

          Friend #29 is a scientist of international stature and a former commander of USAMRIID and SRI Vice-President. Ed again has not contacted him on this issue whether he had few or no friends. Ed just got it flat out wrong and as always hasn’t bothered to correct his mistake.
          Dr. Franz, who has closely followed the matter and promptly responds to emailed inquiries when he is not otherwise occupied, explains the measure of the man.

          “Mr. DAVID FRANZ (Former Head, Biodefense Laboratory, Fort Detrick): He was a really enthusiastic guy. Whenever I meet him in the hall (unintelligible) oh, Colonel Franz, let me tell you about what I’m doing. and he was always very interested in his own research, but also Bruce was the kind of guy who was always willing to help anyone. And he was active in the community. I think he worked with the Red Cross quite a lot. I know he was active in his church.

          KESTENBAUM: Franz says he also would not have pegged Ivins as someone who would send anthrax spores through the mail.

          Mr. FRANZ: I just have no reason to suspect him, and I still don’t. I’m interested in hearing what the FBI has to say. So right now, I’m just saddened, as are a lot of my colleagues who have known and enjoyed working with Bruce over many years.”

          It is remarkable that Ed is so ill informed that he did not know that Dr. Ivins had many, many friends.

        • DXer said

          Rick Sams, a pharmacologist, is Friend #31. His wife, as evidenced by her note to her confirming she knew he was innocent, was Friend #32.

          “You know, he’s been incredibly, incredibly stressed, because of the way he’s been hounded by the F.B.I.,” Mrs. Ivins would later tell Frederick police officers in a recorded interview. “They’ve always treated him as if he was guilty, and I just felt that he couldn’t take it anymore.”

        • DXer said

          Friend #33, who Ed has not contacted, also considered Dr. Ivins his friend.

          He was the FBI’s anthrax expert who told me (despite the gag order and his suspicion the FBI was wiretapping our phone call) that he made dried powdered Ames for DARPA (after it had been irradiated, JE explains, while in a slurry).

          The Washington Post reported: “Ezzell considered Ivins a friend and said they sometimes shared hotel rooms when they traveled to professional conferences. “Most of the time, he was very happy and outgoing,” he said. “He did good work. He was very conscientious, and he worked long hours to get the work done.”

        • DXer said

          Friend #32, Rick Sams, is very articulate on the subject.

          Professor Sams advises me that he had a fairly steady correspondence for many years until about 8 months before his death. Bruce and Rick talked about mutual friends, family, world events, our professional work, politics, sports, photography, and humor. Bruce frequently shared jokes that were being shared on the internet and he often shared beautiful photos that he encountered. Bruce was the high school photographer and he and Professor Sams have an interest in photography so they shared an interest in and appreciation for photography.

          Bruce often expressed frustration with the government’s policies, particularly those of the Bush administration. He frequently ridiculed Dick Cheney and the policies that he promoted. Bruce often spoke about his desire for world peace and tolerance. So much for Ed’s theory as to motivation!

          When he did speak about his wife and children, it was with love and kindness.

          Bruce’s father owned and operated a pharmacy across the street from the pharmacy in which Professor Sams worked during high school and summer and holiday vacations. His mother also worked in the Ivins pharmacy and Professor Sams knew both his parents because he was often asked by the owner of the pharmacy in which he worked to go across the street to borrow a drug or other product that a customer desired. Mrs. Ivins frequently came to the pharmacy in which he worked for the same reason. Both of Bruce’s parents were somewhat older than Rick’s parents but were friendly and often engaged Rick in conversations when he was around them. He was in their home on numerous occasions to visit with Bruce.

          Bruce gave no hints that he had anything to do with the anthrax mailings. He deplored the act and talked about the increased workload that resulted from it.

          Professor Sams has a number of newspaper articles from the local newspaper from the 1960s that report on Bruce’s accomplishments as a high school scholar and has copies of photographs from the high school yearbook.

          If you want to get a picture of a person, don’t go to Ed, go to the people who knew the person.

          And if you have any doubt that Bruce’s much older brother Tom was seriously estranged, Bruce’s friend Rick advises me that Tom referred to his brother in an interview with a reported from the Western Star in the 1980s as “the late Bruce Ivins.”

          Professor Sam this morning tells me that he read that story and thought that Bruce had died and it was only later when he read a scientific article on anthrax that was authored by Bruce that he learned that he was still living and decided to contact him by email.

        • DXer said

          As friends #34 and #35, let’s officially add Mara and Pat. At page 60, the FBI states Former Colleagues #1 and Former Colleague #2 (Mara and Pat) were both close friends and the object of excessive affection and attention by Dr. Ivins. They were not subject to the order that the superior issued directing all of Ivins friends at work to have no contact with him by any means.
          Thus, he could continue private emails and/or IMs to them.

          AUSA Kenneth Kohl, assuming he interviewed Mara and Pat or relied on FBI 302s, may not have interviewed the 33 (and still counting) friends who have publicly proclaimed that they were good friends of Dr. Bruce Ivins. Like Ed, the AUSA sought to spin Dr. Ivins as having no or few friends.

          In contrast, “[h]e was a loyal friend,” the FBI’s anthrax expert John Ezzell explained.

        • DXer said

          Let’s put down neighbor Bonnie Duggan makes Friend #36 who was also incredulous at the charges. “It’s not the Bruce that I knew,” Duggan said. “It doesn’t jive with anything about the Bruce that was my neighbor.” The Duggans maintained their faith in Ivins even though FBI agents had watched his home for a year, sitting in vehicles with tinted windows. “They said, ‘We’re on official business,'” said 16-year-old Natalie Duggan.

          Ed made no attempt to contact Mrs. Dugan — if he had, he would have been in a position to know he was mistaken that the day care was running in 2001. (Even after I sent him the paperwork that the day care did not start up until later, Ed insisted that the evidence clearly shows that Dr. Ivins got a first grader to write the anthrax letters!)

        • DXer said

          The Dugans were interviewed by NPR:

          “ALLISON KEYES: Robert Duggan and his wife, Bonnie, have lived several doors down the street from the Ivins for 19 years, and they just can’t believe what the government says.

          Mr. ROBERT DUGGAN (Former Neighbor of Dr. Bruce Ivins): Dr. Ivins always struck me as a straight arrow, just a good guy.

          KEYES: Bonnie Duggan is equally supportive.

          Ms. BONNIE DUGGAN (Former Neighbor of Dr. Bruce Ivins): I really liked Bruce. Bruce was the kind of guy you’d like to have at the neighborhood picnic. He was the kind of guy that if you needed anything, and he had it, he was going to help you out with it.

          KEYES: The Duggans says Bruce Ivins once showed up at their house with a hard hat and safety goggles on, offering to help them cut down a tree on their property after they tried to borrow his chainsaw, which is why Bonnie is adamant that the government is wrong.”

        • DXer said

          Dr. Kenneth Hedlund, a highly educated professor who worked with Bruce for years, makes it #37 who shares the view:

          “Dr. KENNETH HEDLUND (Former Colleague of Dr. Bruce Ivins): I can’t believe that Bruce Ivins was guilty of what they’re accusing him of.

          KEYES: Dr. Kenneth Hedlund worked with Bruce Ivins at Fort Detrick in the last 1970s and early 1980s when the anthrax program there began. They worked together for five or six years. And Hedlund, a retired physician, remembers Ivins as a man who worked well with his colleagues.

          Dr. HEDLUND: He was a very outgoing, very friendly guy. He juggled at parties, very team-oriented, not a loner at all.

          KEYES: Hedlund doesn’t believe that Ivins would have had the expertise to convert anthrax bacteria into the fine, deadly powder that showed up at media outlets and congressional offices in 2001. Hedlund says he agrees with Ivins’ neighbors and co-workers, who think scrutiny and surveillance from the government was distressing for the sensitive scientist and those he worked with.

          Dr. HEDLUND: I would imagine that the FBI harassed a lot of them, and some of them were able to, you know, put up with it, but Bruce Ivins was one of these individuals who was not able to put up with the harassment.”

        • DXer said

          Melanie Ulrich would be # 38, I believe, of Dr. Ivins friends who Ed never has contacted before trying to spin Dr. Ivins as having few or no friends even though her husband, also from USAMRIID, promptly and graciously responds on their behalf. She was Dr. Ivins’ assistant for 6 years.

          “He actually thought of other people,” said Melanie Ulrich, who worked with him on an anthrax project and invited him to the house she shared with her husband, Ricky Ulrich, also an Army scientist. “He was fun.”

          Melanie Ulrich of Greencastle, Pa., who teaches at Hagerstown Community College, challenged circumstantial evidence against Ivins that has been made public. Ulrich said she worked with Ivins at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Dise ases in Frederick, Md., for about six years. The person she knew doesn’t match the troubled past Ivins is alleged to have had, she said.She said Ivins was a “geeky scientist” who wrote poems and was sensitive and unintimidating. He had been to her home for USAMRIID social activities, including a barbecue and a party. She said Ivins was upset the FBI was watching him, but handled it as well as he could. Ulrich left USAMRIID in 2007. She now teaches at HCC and coordinates the year-old biotechnology program. Ulrich said the FBI interviewed her within the past year as part of its investigation. She said she can’t talk about what was discussed, but the points she expressed in this story didn’t come up during the interview.

          It is laughable to see Ed constantly criticize reporters when they make relevant inquiries and get solid information and he does not.

          It is laughable when he smears others with the label “True Believer” when he is the one who is the true believer who desperately wants to spin Dr. Ivins as having “few friends” so that it fits the “profile” he concocted shortly after the mailings of the “supplier” who was in a conspiracy with another scientist and a first grader.

          If he was any sort of researcher he would make inquiries of the people like the “antagonist” he relies upon for his characterization and Pat and Mara, who he relies upon extensively throughout his webpage without realizing it.

        • DXer said

          One press report explains:

          “Friends like former microbiologist LuAnn Battersby (#39 of Dr. Ivins’ not contacted by Ed) said the meek, rumpled Ivins she knew during eight years at Fort Detrick didn’t seem capable of murder or suicide.
          ‘If you asked me to make a list of the six nuttiest people there, Bruce wouldn’t even hit it,’ she said.”

          Echoing the same point, Melanie explained that while he was weird, he was no more weird than scientists generally. Eating his tuna concoction and peas at his desk is the sort of weird thing to which coworkers point — when that is just a man who knows a healthful diet.

        • DXer said

          Ivins Friend #40 not contacted by Ed in trying to smear Dr. Ivins as having few or no friends — with Ed relying prominently on an “antagonist” — is Arthur O. Anderson, the top ethicist at the institute. Dr. Anderson reports he bonded with Dr. Ivins in the 1980s over their shared experience of adopting children. After that, every corridor encounter led to a long, probing talk on adoption or the ethical conundrums of biodefense.

          After quoting the “antagonist” at length, Ed reports that he is not going to mine the remaining 2,700 pages for support of his claim.

          The real reason of course is that I just named forty people who prove his smear baseless that he has made no effort to contact.

        • DXer said

          Ed Lake now realizes that he was mistaken that Bruce had few or no friends — and that the opposite was true.

          In support of his theory that Bruce Ivins got a first grader to write the letters, he now argues that the fact that Bruce Ivins wrote letters to politicians was evidence he was guilty of the anthrax murders.

          But why is that evidence of murder? By the 1990s, the House of Representatives was receiving nearly 80 million pieces of mail annually, while the Senate counted another 41 million pieces each year.” “[E]ach member of Congress receives an average of 400 letters and postcards daily…”* That this sort of nonsense is viewed as evidence is telling. Educated people who are engaged in the American democratic experience commonly write letters to the editor. Many of my friends write letters to the editor and letters to politicians to include one published this week by a relative on the anniversary of 9/11 in support of the mosque in Manhattan. I certainly have written many more such letters than Dr. Ivins. Perhaps the AUSA who thought it significant (and Ed) don’t engage in participatory democracy with as much relish as Dr. Ivins did.

          What is also telling is that the FBI did not produce the letters under FOIA.

          For examples, his emails show he was opposed to the Patriot Act the passage of which Ed always argued was the mailer’s motive.

          Interest group politics in America, By Ronald J. Hrebenar (1997)

        • DXer said

          Friend #34, previously described (and the FBI mistakenly thought she was one of Dr. Ivins only two friends), is a big New York Yankees fan. (She’s now in Mass. where she is a busy doctor).

          Former Colleague #1 really likes the New York Yankees. Her facebook has her wearing a New Yankees shirt and she lists that as one of her principal likes — along with Ithaca.

          (She obviously has very good taste in liking Ithaca — I spent much of last month photographing area carriage houses in Ithaca, Dryden, Groton and Trumansburg with friends, going to the Farmers Market etc).

          Now much has been made — in concocting the imagined code — that Ivins harbored a hatred for the Yankees. (The only expert consulted by the FBI – see 302 – did not credit the code and yet the AUSA inexplicably still ventured it in her summary memo outlining a theory against Ivins).

          The New York Post explains:

          “Dr. Ivins strongly associated [the former colleague] with New York,” the report said. “His communications with her . . . in the years that followed were replete with references to the New York Yankees, her favorite baseball team, not always in the kindest of terms.”

          Well, duh! You mean Dr. Ivins talked sports with a big sports fan! Damn! That doesn’t make him a criminal that makes him someone who talks to people about their interests.

          Mara was too busy with her medical practice to ever learn that more was going on than Dr. Ivins schoolboy crush on her.

          Like Dr. Ivins, both Mara and Pat were placed under a lot of stress due to the circumstances about which they were being kept in the dark by the FBI.

          So she interpreted the code as referring to the New York Yankees!

          Anthrax and Al Qaeda: The Infiltration of US Biodefense

        • DXer said

          As one interview of Russell Byrne, a USAMRIID division chief explained:

          Byrne has told the press he believes Ivins was hounded by the FBI, and Ivins’ lawyer has blamed FBI harassment for Ivins’ suicide. “I think he committed suicide when he was walked out of the building, escorted by law enforcement officials,” Byrne told Vieira. “That meant the end of his career.”

          Ed should at least now pay him the respect paid by his friends — and acknowledge that Bruce was much loved, liked and respected by his dozens of friends.

          As for relying on the fellow who told the FBI he was Bruce’s “antagonist” — why would Ed think that was reliable evidence of the liking and respect others felt?

          Ed contacted the FBI and told them I was a terrorist.

        • DXer said

          One of Bruce’s many friends, Jeffrey Adamowicz, posted this blog comment on May 11, 2009:

          “I am Bruce’s friend and colleague so I am somewhat biased on this topic.

          However, I was also the Chief of Bacteriology at USAMRIID and in Bruce’s supervisory chain and understand very well the science and the lab’s capabilities. So here is my take on the “evidence” surrounding this case.

          The original observations on the genetic mutants were made at USAMRIID-these are valid.

          The subsequent genetic assays for the morphotypes to trace the supposed source all appear to be scientifically valid.

          However, there are a couple of rubs. For instance, one would only need a representation of the four mutant types in a sample to fool the morphotype assay. Supposedly, the original RMR 1029 has more then 30 morphotypes but no evidence to support this claim has been provided.

          The more important and obvious problem is this: the FBI testing reports 8 samples with all four morphotypes (7 came from samples from USAMRIID and one from an unnamed source). RMR1029 ws prepared by Bruce in 1997 from a large number of smaller spore preps, these were assembled from in-house preps and a large number of preps from Dugway proving grounds.

          RMR1029 aliquots were subsequently provided to other internal and external collaborators principally to support animal challenges.

          This begs two questions.

          1. Why did only two labs submit samples that are positive for RMR1029? Does this mean that a lot of places (including the real perpetrator) failed to comply with the FBIs voluntary sample submission scheme? Why didn’t the FBI themselves comment on the extent of compliance? They know or should know which labs legitimatley possessed RMR1029 so this knowledge should have been matched with the results as an internal proficinecy test ( a common quality control practice). While I no longer have access to detailed distribution records I can confidently state that more then two labs possessed aliquots of RMR1029.

          2. Was there ever a search for RMR1029 precursor samples that possess all four morphotypes? I asked the scientific panel a question about this at the ASM-biodefense meeting in February 2009. They claimed they couldn’t answer this as it related to the investigation of the case. This answer was unsatisfactory and suggests that either the science staff has been told to not ask these questions or are very naive.

          Related to the genetic analysis is the issue of a so-called rare mutant B. subtilitis (niger variant) contaminant present in the first set of letters. The FBI/postal inspectors original affidavit claimed that there was a very unique genetic marker in this contaminant. It seems to me that this would make it a useful forensic tool. I believe the niger variant strain was used extensively at Dugway Proving Grounds as a simulant BW agent. So the question is was this variant found at Dugway or any other laboratory including the contract labs used to support forensic testing. Again, when I asked this question at the ASM-BD meeting the science panel could provide no useful information. Are they compartmentalized in the extent of their analysis or just completely naive?

          Next topic. Analysis of silicon content. There is still a huge unresolved issue on this subject. Early reports from 2002-4 seemed to suggest there was added silicon. Then, the recent reports from Sandia say there is not added silicon.

          These recent claims are unsubstantiated by experimental evidence and instead based on poor observational technique.

          The conclusion that no silicon was added is based on the STEM technique which looks at 200 nm “spots” on individual spores and provides a qualitative readout of the relative about of compounds contianing silicon. Here’s the problems. Joe Michaels who did the analysis publicly admitted that it is no better then 50% accurate in estimately the content in the spores (Bad science #1). He did not analyze the slicon content in the extracellular area. My educated guess is that this is where the majority of any additive would actully reside. It is not clear why this wasn’t analyzed (Bad science #2).

          Lastly, if your hypothesis is that someone added silicon to the spores (or didn’t) you should do the obvious experiment to support or refute your hypothesis? Namely a simple titration experiment to add increasing amounts of common silicon containing compounds to your spores and demonstration that your technique can detect this titration. This would also give data on the relative sensitively of your technique. To be fair to Joe he’s not a biologist or a microbiologist. This begs the question why wouldn’t a microbiologist be placed in charge of this type of experimentation?”

          Dr. Adamowicz concludes:

          “I’ve come to the conclusion that [the FBI’s] evidence is a mixture of good and bad science, poor/compartmentalized information, and a lot of inuendo.

          I could go on for some time about other poor examples of “evidence” but I think that is enough for today. I truly hope the NAS panel is allowed to see all the “evidence.” I can only predict that their conclusions will be the same as mine.”

  8. DXer said

    Add Jerry Andrick as Friend #25 who Mr. Lake has failed to contact in mistakenly creating the impression Dr. Ivins had few or no friends.

    Each of these 25 could name many more from their particular social circle who were Dr. Ivins’ friend and regarded him warmly.

    Now if Ed is so eager to write on the subject of how many friends Bruce had, when will he first contact the first of the 25 of his good friends I’ve name so that Ed might educate himself?

    If he wants to address the subject, a fair summary would be: “Dozens of Dr. Ivins’ good friends spoke publicly about the warm regard they felt for him.”

    “Another eulogist, Jerry Andrick, spoke about a little-known aspect of Ivins’s life, saying that it typified his warm and giving nature. Bruce and Diane Ivins had adopted their twins, Andy and Amanda, now 24. The Andricks were the twins’ pre-foster parents, but the Ivinses had invited them to share in the children’s birthdays and holidays for many years afterward.

    Andrick said almost every get-together ended in a soccer match or football game in the Ivins’s back yard.

    “It was the Geezers versus the Whippersnappers,” Andrick said, describing how he and Bruce never won a game against their kids.

    Every Christmas dinner also ended with Andrick and Ivins sitting down to read all 365 comics in the year’s Far Side desk calendar, Andrick’s perennial gift to Ivins. “He loved the humor. We both did,” Andrick said.”

    • DXer said

      Let’s add Caroline as Friend #26 who Ed never bothered to contact in trying to persuade that Dr. Ivins had few or no friends.

      “Caroline PERMALINK
      August 2, 2008 10:29 am
      I knew Bruce Ivins. He`was a kind and generous man. I cannot imagine that he is guilty of this horrible crime. The FBI aggresively harrassed him and his family for many years. I believe that they drove him to psychosis and to ultimately commit suicide. I feel great sadness for him and his family, and I in no way think that the this is a victory for the FBI.”

      • DXer said

        Add Bryan Olson at Friend #27 who Ed never bother contacting before falsely spinning Bruce as having few or no friends. Bryan, who provides his email, says he would trust Bruce with his life.

        I knew Bruce Ivins
        well, though we lost touch. When we got through a
        3-3-10 with clubs, it was a first for both of us. Now I’m reading
        descriptions in the media that could not be farther from the Bruce Ivins
        I knew. He was a great guy; friendly, cheerful, funny, modest.

        A great juggler? Well… no. That wasn’t Bruce’s goal. He founded
        small-town Juggling clubs, specifically Gaithersburg Jugglers and
        Jugglers of Frederick. He made made everyone feel welcome and kept the
        clubs stayed active in their communities. Bruce Ivins was about bringing
        people together.

        When I saw recent news about the anthrax investigation, my eyes passed
        right over the name. I did not make the association until someone asked
        me whether this is my old friend “Bruce Ivins”. Technically they’re
        talking about my friend, but the Bruce I knew would rank high on a list
        of people I’d trust with my life.

        If anyone has the Ivins family’s address, please send it to me at bryan
        period olson at acm dot org.

  9. DXer said
    Sep 14, 2010

    Security scare in US Congress
    WASHINGTON – THE US House of Representatives chamber was briefly evacuated on Monday as a precaution after a suspicious but ultimately harmless powder was found on the floor, according the US Capitol Police.

    ‘Just before noon, we discovered a powdery substance on the floor of the House,’ said a spokesman, Sergeant Kimberly Schneider.

    ‘The only people in there at the time were a few House pages, who were evacuated out of an abundance of caution,’ and the ‘immediate area’ was secured while the powder was tested, she told AFP by telephone.

    Shortly before 1pm (1700 GMT, 1am Singapore time), Sgt Schneider reported by e-mail: ‘All clear, nothing hazardous found.’

    In the weeks following the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist strikes, envelopes containing anthrax spores were mailed to the offices of two Democratic senators, as well as some major media outlets. — AFP

  10. OldAtlantic said

    Forking FBI/DOJ/Ed Lake on centrifuge time and efficiency between first and second mailings.

    Ed Lake claims that the first mailing had only 5 percent anthrax spores and the rest he claims is debris or vegetative cells. The latter he treats as if it was nutrients, instead of anthrax cells, that had to be grown and thus took time.

    Ed admits there was centrifuging for the first mailing and the second and the second was very pure.

    If centrifuging a batch gets out 99 percent of the non-spores for a 30 minute round, then the first mailing should have been almost pure anthrax spores. If on the other hand, each 30 minute round of centrifuging only removed one percent of non spores remaining, then to to get to over 99 percent spores would take many centrifuging. In this case, one needs .99^n < .01 where n is the number of rounds. If one started with .9 of non spores and had to get to .01 of non-spores, and each round only takes out one percent, then that means

    .9 * .99^n < .01


    .99^n < .01/.9 = .011

    .99^50 = .60

    50 rounds at 30 minutes each is 25 hours. Doubling that time gets to .36, which is 50 hours of centrifuging and it is still not done.

    As the efficiency goes up per round of taking out non-spores, the second mailing becomes feasible, but only having 5 percent spores the first round is unlikely.

    If he centrifuged once on the first time, and still had 95 percent non-spores, that would imply a persistence rate each round for non-spores that is high. If he started with 2.5 percent spores and centrifuged once to get 5 percent spores, then that would mean he went from 97.5 to 95.0 percent non-spores in one round. So the efficiency is .95/.975 = 0.974358974.

    0.974358974^100 = 0.0744558701

    Thus for the second mailing at this same efficiency rate, 100 centrifuges would leave still 7.4 percent non-spores. And to get that down to 1 percent would require:

    0.974358974^175 = 0.0106126331

    So 175 centrifuges at 30 minutes each is about 90 hours of centrifuging. If centrifuging was faster, then he could have done more the first weekend.

    So Ed Lake's 5 percent spores the first weekend v. almost pure spores the second mailing is mathematically inconsistent.

    • Old Atlantic said

      Ed Lake has kindly responded to my comments at his blog. Ed in his comments says he does not admit there was centrifuging for the first mailing. If Ivins used a liquid solution to make the anthrax, he would have to centrifuge to separate the spores from the liquid on Sunday night Sep 16 2001.

      So Ed is evidently going by using plates. However, plates would take a large amount of space for such a size run. This would be many square meters.

      This was discussed earlier at the Nass blog and eventually the plate idea was abandoned as possible because it would take too many square meters.

      Here are some rough notes I took from the FBI docs.

      sps02.8801 is apparently the NYPost anthrax per another discussion on this blog. Ed if this is not correct in your view, please point it out and any source otherwise.

      FBI Amerithrax pdf’s


      See page 23, 24

      page 25 Ivins
      spores from Post letter as okay,
      with a good bit of clumping.

      page 29 Daschle

      page 30 comparison of two samples.

      sps02.57.03 examined oct 17 2001

      date analyzed 23 oct 2001
      date report 24 oct 2001
      sample sps02.8801
      < 5 percent visible vegetative cells
      < 10 percent visible debris
      very few clumps
      most individual refractile spores

      relatively pure


      page 106 sample sps02.88.01
      data analyzed 23 oct 2001
      date report 24 oct 2001

      1.33 x 10^11 cfu per gram

      < 5 percent visible veg cells

      < 10 percent visible debris

      not as pure as sps02.57.03 oct 17 2001
      2.1 x 10^12 per gram

      15.8 hotter

      page 121 analysis of samples

      24 oct, 25 oct 01 report
      misc non letter anthrax

      comparison to two letter samples
      page 122 to 123

      ==end of notes

      It appears from the this that the NY Post letter was less than 10 percent debris and 5 percent vegetative cells. This seems to indicate it was over 90 percent spores or 85 percent in another interpretation. Ed please indicate if you agree.

      2.1 x 10^12 per gram

      sps02.57.03 oct 17 2001



      sps02.88.01 (NY Post it appears)
      data analyzed 23 oct 2001
      date report 24 oct 2001

      1.33 x 10^11 cfu per gram

      Ivins concludes Daschle is "15.8 times hotter" than NY Post.

      One way to reconcile this data is that the NY Post letter had more spores per cfu or larger ones.

      Nonethless, the NY Post was over 85 percent and likely over 90 percent spores.

      The first mailing has been estimated at 5 to 10 grams. The liters to produce this may be 5 to 10 times per gram. This gives 25 to 100 liters. This is too large to do by plates and requires liquid media. Either way, the square meters of plates or liters of liquid media would make the job take too long for the time of the first weekend.

      The most likely scenario is that it was done with liquid media for this large volume job. Liquid media requires centrifuging.

    • Old Atlantic said

      The plates issue was discussed by Dr. Popov at the Meryl Nass blog in 2008.


      “It would require at least 100 plates/letter. This number of plates is impossible to handle inconspicuously.”

      My earlier calcs posted there. At that point I did not understand the paper as well, but anyhow I repost those calcs

      Note the 4 and 5 days below is assuming Ivins started during the week in the lab after Tuesday Sep 11, 2001. This was based on a hypothesis discussed by Dr. Popov and an attempt to show this was not feasible. It is even less feasible that Ivins started Friday Sep 14 to Sep 16 with plates. The large square feet would have required a lot of prep time and then harvesting and clean up.


      I’ve worked up some numbers from the paper.

      Production of Bacillus Spores as a Simulant for Biological Warfare Agents
      Authors: Laurie F. Carey; Diane C. St. Amant; Mark A. Guelta;

      I estimate he needed 90 square feet of NSM plates to produce 5g for the 5 envelopes at 1g each. If it was 2 grams, he needed 180 square feet.

      Bottom page 13, 1 gram of dry spores
      per liter (meaning liter as ref on page 12).

      Page 12 2.9.1 for one liter used 15 to 18 large 100 x 150 mm plates. i.e. 4 by 6 inch plates or 24 sq inches. So 15 of them is
      360 sq inches. 144 inches in a square foot. 18 of them is 432 which is 3 x 144 or 3 square feet. Lets use that.

      At 5g we need 15 square feet. But hold on, that’s when you use the longer growth period in days. We have only 4 days. So we get our efficiency factor of 6, so we need 90 square feet for 5g. 90 square feet of plates.

      Efficiency factor estimate: Go to page 20 and compare NSM 4 day v 10 day lines. 4 days takes 9 vials to get .3195 grams. 10 days takes 5 vials to get .9817 grams. Lets call this 10 vials to 5 vials and 1/3 to 1 gram. So we get a factor of 6 efficiency by the longer period.

      So 1 gram of powder required 3 square feet of plates for the long period. 5 grams means 15 square feet of plate. But to do it in 4 days requires 90 square feet of plate.

      So where did he put this 90 square feet of plate?


      My memory is at some point or maybe more than once Ed and I discussed the production the first weekend and Ed conceded that plates were not feasible.

    • From Ed Lake’s blog.

      “First, I’ve always said that the media powder appears to have contained only 10 percent spores. I got that information from an on-line article many years ago, and nothing learned to-date has contradicted it. (I’ve also explained this to “Old Atlantic” before and provided him with the source.)

      Second, I’ve always said that the rest of the powder was mostly dead bacteria, a.k.a. “sporulation debris,” although there may have a small amount of dried nutrients in it, too.”

      As indicated the FBI docs on Amerithrax contain Ivins analysis of the NY Post letter and Ivins less than 5 percent vegetative cells and less than 10 percent debris.

      Vegetative cells means cells that did not become spores, they need not be still alive. Thus Ivins analysis shows that dead bacteria cells as Ed terms them are less than 5 percent of the NY Post letter.

      However, for growth purposes, it is the same whether its 90 percent dead bacteria cells or spores, because both had to be grown.

      The first batch of letters had 5 to 10 grams. Ed is agreeing most of these are anthrax cells that were grown, whether spores or dead.

      The time and resources to grow 5 to 10 grams of anthrax is substantial. The ratios are 5 to 10 liters per gram in practice or even more. Thus we are looking at 25 to 100 liters used to grow the first mailing. This would take longer than the weekend from Friday Sep 14 to Sunday Sep 16 2001 that the FBI/DOJ theory claims.

    • Old Atlantic said

      Ed’s source on the 10 percent purity is

      Paul de Armond

      “Maj. Gen. John Parker, commander of the division that includes USAMRIID, says the New York samples were considerably less pure than the Daschle sample. “Times ten difference,” according to Gen. Parker. According to the testimony of Dr. Kenneth Alibek, the former head of the Soviet Union’s bioweapons research program, before the House International Relations Committee, the impurities included dead vegetative anthrax cells. ”

      Paul Armand may have interpreted this to mean Daschle is 100 percent pure and NY Post is 10 percent pure.

      But an alternative is that Daschle is less than 1 percent non-spores and NY Post is less than 10 percent non-spores.

      This interpretation is consistent with the FBI Amerithrax documents on Ivins analysis.

      One can search on pure, debris, vegetative, cell, dead, etc. to get some of his comments on these matters. He still interpets that the material sent were mostly antrhax cells, just that he views most as dead vegetative cells and not spores. This still leads to the need to produce 5 to 10 grams or anthrax in the first batch of letters which requires 25 to 100 liters of prep. This implies the need for liquid means if Ivins did it.

      Moreover, if it was mostly vegetative cells in the first letters, then we are back to the issue that centrifuging had to be used for the liquid prep of the 5 to 10 grams in the first mailing and that if centrifuging was this inefficient, it would imply a very large number and time of centrifuging to get the purity of the second mailings.

      However, it seems more likely that Armand simply misinterpreted the ten times difference the wrong way and that the Ivins analysis of the NY Post letter as 90 percent or more of spores is the correct interpretation with the Daschle letter 99 percent or more of spores and so the factor 10 is from less than 10 percent non-spores in NY Post to less than one percent of non-spores in Daschle.

      • Old Atlantic said

        There are 4 articles on anthrax by Armond on the following page

        These are higher quality pdf’s and have diagrams that are very instructive to look at.

        These are from 2002 it appears. After that he dropped the subject.

        Armond has diagrams of producing anthrax show centrifuging as a step after both plates and liquid media growth of anthrax.

        Armond uses the 5 grams figure for the first mailings. He also writes that there was weaponization.

        Some searches

        “Paul de Armond” anthrax

        anthrax “10 percent” spores “New York Post”

        anthrax Parker “ten times”

        anthrax Jahrling “ten times”

        Ed said he only had this one source, Armond, for this claim. This may be because its inaccurate. Perhaps someone pointed out to Armond the error after he published it and that is why he didn’t publish on anthrax again.

    • Old Atlantic said

      I also found the following quote using the ten times pure language as a comparison of the Daschle to the old US weapons program. The old US weapons program could not have been 90 percent debris and dead cells that did not form spores and thus 10 percent spores. So this phrase is used by USAMRIID to compare say less than 1 percent impurity of the old US weapons program to less than 1/10 of a percent debris and vegetative cells for Daschle powder.

      Jahrling quote


      There was one passage in the book, however, that bothered me. In it, Preston describes a conference call between Dr. Peter B. Jahrling, who was a senior researcher with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick (and who was one of Preston’s principal sources when writing The Demon), and scientists at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta:

      The CDC officials on the call asked Jahrling if he could characterize the particle size. This was an important question, because if the anthrax particles were very small, they could get into people’s lungs, and the powder would be much more deadly.

      Peter Jahrling replied that USAMRIID’s data indicated that [the anthrax taken from the letter sent to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle] was ten times more concentrated and potent than any form of anthrax that had been made by the old American biowarfare program at Fort Detrick in the nineteen sixties.

      == end quote

      But surely the old US weapons program did not produce 10 percent spores? Here Jahrling is not saying the Daschle was 100 percent pure and the old US weapons program was 10 percent pure, but rather he is saying that the old US weapons program has impurities less than some small number like 10 percent (or even 1 percent) and that the Daschle was 1/10 of the impurities of that.

      General Parker was also USAMRIID so he was likely using “ten times” purer the same was as Jahrling. This was the understanding at USAMRIID of what “ten times” purer meant. This makes sense, because they wouldn’t have samples that they stopped purifying that were 90 percent dead cells and debris and 10 percent spores.

      Instead, they would have samples that were 1 percent non-spores and 1/10 of one percent non-spores and so forth. So that is where they would get used to saying that 1/10 of 1 percent impurity is ten times more pure than 1 percent impurity.

      • DXer said

        Dr. Ezzell has explained that the powder he made for DARPA was considerably purer than the Daschle product.

      • Anonymous said

        The real story behind the spore counts of Daschle and NYP and how that compared to products made in past military programs can best be understood by looking at the actual data:

        Contrary to the fabricated claims and writings of Ed Lake, although the NYP powder gave poorer quality plate counts than the Daschle powder, it was still a very high quality preparation – higher quality than all the other samples they tested from military programs at the same time.

        Ed Lake remains desperate to re-write history by fabricating information that somehow the NYP powder was poor quality. Comapred to Daschle it was – but the Daschle powder was something special altogether. As the results from the link here clearly demonstrate.

    • Old Atlantic said

      Just to review why this is so important. The DOJ/FBI theory is that Ivins grew from scratch anthrax starting Friday evening Sep 14, 2001, caused it to sporulate to produce spores, separated it from its media of preparation, dried it and prepared the envelopes. His time in the lab that weekend was 2 hours 15 minutes each night, always starting at the same time.

      Dxer has shown that this lab time was instead consistent with Ivins checking the animals for others that weekend and the government will not release the lab notebook entries for those days or later in October.

      If Ivins had grown anthrax from scratch, he would have to start the growth Friday evening. Saturday night would be the point to cause sporulation to occur. This is done by adding an additive that causes this, per Ed Lake on an earlier discussion. (Also search on sporulation additive.)

      Sporulation takes longer than 2 hours 15 minues. So the sporulation additive is added Saturday night and then Sunday night Ivins returns and has to do all the steps of centrifuging, drying, and finishing the envelopes and cleaning it up.

      Growing 5 grams of vegetative cells would take longer than this by itself. Converting those to 5 grams of spores would take longer and centrifuging would take longer and so would drying. All these steps add up to too long for that weekend. They are also awkward steps to fit into such a locked in schedule.

      If Ivins had prepared the spores in liquid prep prior to that weekend, then during that weekend he would only have to centrifuge and dry them. In that case, he would have spent all of Saturday doing the centrifuging and then got something going for drying.

      In the DOJ/FBI theory, sporulation occurs from Sat night to Sun night. That means Ivins can’t use a lyophilizer overnight even if it was available in their timeline. A speed vac is insufficient for the 5 grams of matter sent, whether they were spores or debris, they would have had to be dried.

      If Ivins had grown the spores already, then he would have worked to centrifuge Saturday then tried to dry the spores overnight on Saturday. Then he would have come in Sunday morning to check on things and decide what to do. If he was using a speed vac he would have spent all of Sunday speed vacing to dry the spores/debris.

      Instead, he came in at night the same time for 2 hours 15 minutes each time. This fits with checking animals but not on the lab steps of growth, sporulation, centrifuging and drying.

      That the letters contain 5 grams of spores approximately and only 10 percent debris or vegetative cells makes the government case that much harder, although it doesn’t fit the steps and hours in either case. If the lab hours don’t fit, you must acquit.

  11. DXer said

    Here are excerpts from Napolitano’s recent prepared remarks:

    “Over the past year and a half, I have made one of my very top priorities for DHS to get information, to get tools and to get resources out of Washington, D.C., and into the hands of the men and women serving on the front lines. That includes you — the first responders — but it also includes citizens, community groups and our partners in the private sector. This may not generate big headlines. But this hometown-centric approach has a big impact on our ability to be effective and — more important — to support you in the field.


    “Today, on the eve of the ninth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history, I can pledge to you this: We will do everything in our power to prevent attacks and to prepare ourselves. At DHS, a fundamental part of that obligation is to get information, tools and resources into the hands of people who can use them to help all of us be more secure. To field that bigger team … to enlist individuals, local communities, businesses, law enforcement and first responders in a network of shared responsibility … to enlist the nation in its own collective security.”


    This is meaningless PR. It has taken USAMRIID over two years to produce the stack of Dr. Bruce Ivins emails. Moreover, you can expect the same withholding and delay from NAS and FBI that we’ve seen for two years to continue.

  12. DXer said

    Dr. Sharples advises me that the NAS report should be out in the fall — that’s all they can say for now.

  13. DXer said

    United States Patent 7,776,292
    Wilson , et al. August 17, 2010
    Method and apparatus for bioweapon decontamination

    The present disclosure relates to the decontamination of articles contaminated (or thought to be contaminated) with bioweapons, such as methods and apparatus for decontaminating articles contaminated with sporualated bioweapons. In some embodiments, the methods are methods of decontaminating an environment, for example a room or building contaminated with a bioweapon.

    Inventors: Wilson; Deborah E. (Dunn Loring, VA), Lock; Katherine K. (Bethesda, MD), Cohen; Murray L. (Fort Worth, TX), McWhorter; Thomas E. (Allentown, PA), Rosenblatt; Aaron A. (New York, NY), Traum; Theodore J. (Rio Rancho, NM)
    Assignee: CDIC, Inc. (Atlanta, GA)
    The United States of America as represented by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (Washington, DC)
    N/A (Bethlehem, PA)
    CDG Research Corporation
    Appl. No.: 10/597,191
    Filed: January 13, 2005
    PCT Filed: January 13, 2005


    U.S. mail, postal facilities, and government buildings have in the past been contaminated with weaponized anthrax spores, which resulted in several cases of bioterrorism-related inhalational anthrax infections. Because the U.S. Postal Service currently handles an estimated 239 billion items of mail per year, the risk is high that another disease outbreak will result from acts of bioterrorism. To protect the public health, mail and buildings actually or potentially contaminated with a bioweapon from such an attack must be thoroughly decontaminated.

    One problem with the decontamination of bioterrorism sites is that anthrax and other bioweapon spores generally are “weaponized,” which changes the spores’ native characteristics and makes them more resistant to decontamination. While conventional decontamination protocols, such as exposure to chlorine dioxide, ethylene oxide, formaldehyde, or steam may be sufficient to kill many sporulated bacteria, they often fail to completely inactivate weaponized spores.

    Furthermore, even those conventional bioweapon decontamination protocols that are effective on non-porous surfaces typically fail to fully decontaminate porous surfaces, such as paper. For instance, U.S. Pat. No. 4,681,739 discloses a method for decontaminating a bacterial spore-contaminated surface that is substantially gas-impermeable. However, this method is ineffective at decontaminating porous surfaces, particularly porous surfaces that are contaminated with weaponized spores. Reliance on such a method may permit weaponized spores to remain viable and undetected, leading to possible infection and death.


    Provided herein are methods of decontaminating articles that overcomes many of the problems of prior methods. The method is effective at killing weaponized spores, for example when spores are present on a porous or non-pourous article or surface, for which prior approaches are often somewhat ineffective.


    Weaponized: Enhancement of a bioweapon, for example by creating a finely dispersed, highly concentrated, easily aerosolized, and sterilization- or decontamination-resistant spore. Weaponization decreases a pathogen’s (such as a spore’s) susceptibility to decontamination.

  14. DXer said

    Anthrax War—the Malaysian Connection
    by Bob Coen and Eric Nadler, Special to ProPublica

  15. DXer said

    A lot of work under the FBI’s science in the Amerithrax investigation related to isotope analysis. In the early years, it was expected to be useful. Then it was discarded. For the NAS to have fulfilled its purpose, the panel should address this issue and explain why at the end of the day, it was not productive. An early press report *MSNBC” indicated that the lab had been narrowed to “Northeastern United States.”

    Forensic Sci Int. 2010 Aug 20. [Epub ahead of print]

    Forensic utility of isotope ratio analysis of the explosive urea nitrate and its precursors.

    Aranda R 4th, Stern LA, Dietz ME, McCormick MC, Barrow JA, Mothershead RF 2nd.

    Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Quantico, VA 22135, United States.


    ^^^ These observed variations suggest that this approach is useful for discriminating between materials which are otherwise chemically identical.

  16. DXer said

    Convicted Disease Doc Won’t Be Charged in MIA Scare
    Scientist found with suspicious item at airport did prison time for plague sample flap
    Sep 3, 2010

    • DXer said

      What was the dead bacteria sample being transported?

      “That official said the man has a prior arrest record related to biological material and is a professor at Ross University in Dominica on a teaching assignment in Saudi Arabia. The professor told law enforcement that the metal canister was used for medical testing, and the FBI found that it was used to transport dead bacteria samples, the official said.”

  17. DXer said

    As previously noted, the FBI has offered $100,000 for white powder letters that state like FBI Al-Qaeda in the USA.

    Feds offer $100000 reward in white powder letter case
    Dallas Morning News – Jason Trahan – ‎Aug 14, 2010‎

    Under the FBI’s standard profile that the unstable loner did it, they should consider the Dallas FBI agent who was allegedly planning to kill his wife, an FBI analyst in the office, who he reportedly suspected was involved with the head of the FBI Dallas office. In a letter that was to be delivered after the murder, the agent alleged his life he and his career had been destroyed by the head of the office.

    Officials say FBI agent accused in murder plot was stockpiling weapons
    August 26, 2010

    He had previously been involved in armed standoffs with police, had a stockpile of guns, had been in a mental hospital, and had great enmity toward the FBI head and his estranged wife, an FBI analyst in the office.

    Didn’t his wife profile the white powder letters?

    But given that such a solution would point out how the dysfunctional the FBI was, who wants to be the first to suggest that the idea be considered in light of the reward offered?

    For example, I wouldn’t want to be the one to point out that it was the FBI’s expert who made dried powdered anthrax at USAMRIID (despite public denials by the commanding General).

    I wouldn’t want to be the first to suggest that a former Zawahiri associate funded by the same DARPA program funding the FBI anthrax expert had been supplied by virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins.

    I wouldn’t want to be the one to point out that someone mentored by Bin Laden’s sheik and coordinating with the 911 imam Anwar Aulaqi was sharing a suite with the leading anthrax scientist in the world and former deputy USAMRIID Commander, a prolific Ames researcher.

    That sort of thing could leave a guy feeling pretty angry and frustrated — and waiting for the cable guy to come.


    • DXer said

      He certainly was under a great deal of stress. What “technical functions” did he perform?

      Carlos Ortiz, 48, of Red Oak, who performed technical functions for the bureau, …

      “He’s being treated like a criminal,” said Ortiz’s girlfriend, Rosa Martinez, 39. “He’s given his life to the United States government.”

      Martinez said Ortiz did not assault his wife.

      “They suspended him without pay because of something she said,” Martinez said. “They’ve never heard his side.”


      Ortiz’s father, Carlos Ortiz Valles, who lives with him in Red Oak, said he and his son could barely afford to feed themselves while Ortiz was on unpaid leave from his job, which paid him more than $100,000 annually, according to court records.

      “He was retiring next year,” Valles said. “He’s not going to throw away his career” by making threats.

      Valles said his son was devastated when he had to ask for government assistance recently.

      “He said, ‘Dad, I have never had to do this,’ ” his father recalled. “He cries because he has to ask for coupons to eat.”

      Valles acknowledged that a local police SWAT team responded to his son’s house a few years ago but said the matter was a “family dispute” and that “nothing happened.”

      Ortiz is a Japanese sword-fighting enthusiast and keeps a collection of guns and swords at his home. Pictures of Ortiz on his Facebook page show him dressed in martial-arts garb and using a sword to chop an object.

      County records show that in July 2009, Ortiz filed for divorce from his wife of approximately eight years. They have a 6-year-old son.

      Ortiz also filed for bankruptcy in December. The case was closed March 31.

      Bankruptcy records show that he surrendered a $161,000 house that he and his wife co-own in Red Oak. Ortiz was allowed to keep a more expensive house he owns down the street, where he had been living with his father. His father said they were probably going to lose that house, too, because of several months of missed mortgage payments.

      Ortiz also gave up a 2004 BMW 530i, the records show.


      Bankruptcy records also indicate that Ortiz claimed to be expecting a $1.2 million settlement from the government relating to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint. EEOC officials reached Wednesday said they could not confirm the existence of such a case because of privacy concerns.

    • DXer said

      As with the batch #79 released yesterday, my source of intelligence confirms that there is nothing in the remaining batches to be uploaded that in any way implicates Dr. Ivins as the mailer or processor or supports the FBI’s claims. It all is either not relevant or exculpatory. If Dr. Ivins were alive, the prosecution would not have been able to withhold exculpatory evidence for two years.

  18. DXer said

    SA says no.

  19. Roberto said

    I’m holding my breath that Steven Aftergood will publish all in tomorrow’s Secrecy News!

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