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

* photos of Dr. Bruce Ivins From his high school yearbook

Posted by DXer on September 21, 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 *


18 Responses to “* photos of Dr. Bruce Ivins From his high school yearbook”

  1. DXer said

    Here is an interview of colleague and friend Russell Byrne is representative of the dozens of his friends named friends say.

    Dr. Byrne explains that he was not aware of the research with dry spores at USAMRIID (which as it turns out was done by the FBI’s anthrax expert JE and the DARPA-funded researchers).

    He was not supposed to talk about it with Dr. Ivins. Dr. Byrne gives an example of one of the silly things that they couldn’t discuss involving loan of a uniform used for a halloween costume — his friends and colleagues signed nondisclosure agreements that prevented them from discussing anything they had talked about, subject to criminal prosecution.

    Thus, Dr. Ivins was affirmatively alienated from his friends. It is not at all surprising Dr. Ivins committed suicide especially after his first attempt and after his hospitalization.

    And yet the young female AUSA who was helping Kenneth Kohl refuses to release the handwritten contemporaneous notes that Dr. Ivins showing what he was doing on the nights she alleges, without basis, that Bruce was making anthrax.

    That’s not justice. The Freedom of Information Act is being flagrantly violated and now it will take the subpoena power of a Congressional Committee to require key documents to be disclosed.

    We all should be so lucky as to have friends as true as Dr. Ivins did.

    • DXer said

      Friend #43 is Henry Heine who gave an interview to the Frederick News-Post and long radio interview.

      Co-worker: Ivins didn’t do it
      Originally published April 23, 2010

      By Megan Eckstein
      News-Post Staff

      Co-worker: Ivins didn’t do it

      It is absolutely impossible that Bruce Ivins, accused of mailing anthrax and killing five people in 2001, could have created and cleaned up anthrax spores in the timeline and manner the FBI alleges, Ivins’ former co-worker said Thursday.

      The National Academy of Sciences brought in former USAMRIID microbacteriologist Henry Heine to explain spore preparation to the panel, which is tasked with investigating the science the FBI used to accuse Ivins, also a former microbacteriologist for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

      And though Heine discussed only scientific methods and technologies before the panel, he said afterward he firmly believes Ivins did not and could not have grown and prepared the anthrax.

      Heine told the panel that the most common way of growing bacteria at USAMRIID is in flasks. Based on the number of envelopes mailed out (eight to 10), the concentration of spores in the powder (10 to the 12th power spores per gram) and the number of grams of anthrax per envelope (1 to 2 grams), he calculated there were at least 10 to the 13th power anthrax spores in the attacks. Under ideal conditions, growing anthrax in a flask could produce only 10 to the 11th power spores — one hundredth of the total needed.

      “At absolute best, if he pushed it, he could have possibly done it in a year,” Heine said of Ivins, after the meeting.

      Heine refrained from talking too much about Ivins in front of the panel, simply telling them that the anthrax in question most likely would have been grown in a 100-liter fermenter.

      Heine replied that many antifoams added to anthrax to be put in a fermenter contain silicon. So if the anthrax was grown in a fermenter, then “you can achieve the kind of percentages (of silicon) found in the letters with this process.”

      But if the anthrax was grown in a flask, “you absolutely wouldn’t expect it” to have picked up any silicon naturally.

      The committee also asked Heine how the anthrax could have been dried into a powder. He replied that the FBI had asked him the same question in October 2001, and he said then and still thinks a lyophilizer would be the simplest way to dry large quantities of spores.

      But “the idea of lyophilizing this actually scares the hell out of me, this material is so fine.” It would have contaminated the whole room when the air and moisture was vacuumed out, he said.

      He said the lyophilizer at USAMRIID was not in the containment area, and if it had been used to prepare anthrax there would have been a trail of dead animals and people leading investigators to it.

      USAMRIID had a speed-vac that someone could have used, but that would dry only 30 to 40 milliliters at a time.

      Heine told the FBI the only other way he could think to dry the anthrax would be to use acetone, which would pull out the water.

      “I have no idea what that would do to the spores and whether they’d still be viable,” he said, adding there would likely be evidence that acetone was used.

      The NAS committee left after about half an hour of questioning Heine. Members already met twice to review FBI documents, and they expect a draft report to be ready by midsummer.

      After the committee left, Heine expressed frustration that he had already told the FBI everything he just presented, but that no one had listened to him. FBI agents he dealt with were professional, he said, but some officials at the Department of Justice were extremely arrogant.

      He said the whole investigation was filled with lies. Officials told different USAMRIID researchers their co-workers accused them of committing the attacks, just to see their reaction. They searched his vacation house and car without warrants.

      They misled him about the questions they would ask him in front of a grand jury. And they tried to get him to seek a restraining order against Ivins, only days before he committed suicide …

      Heine is not the only one who does not believe Ivins was the real killer.

      “At least among my closest colleagues, nobody believes Bruce did this,” he said. He thinks the FBI went after Ivins because “personality-wise, he was the weakest link.”

      • DXer said

        Let’s make Anne Leffler Ivins Friend #44.

        Anne Leffler volunteered with Ivins at the American Red Cross’ Disaster Services for five years. After reading the FBI’s report, she said she is most upset by its portrayal of his suicide as proof of his guilt.

        Leffler said Ivins was loving and caring, but like many brilliant people, was also “emotionally fragile in many ways.”

        “You pick on them enough, you bully them enough, you scare them enough — and let’s face it, the FBI can do that — and they feel like they have nowhere to go,” she said. That was why Ivins killed himself in 2008, not because he was guilty and wanted to escape punishment.

        “At this point, the government is just needing to see the case closed, and it’s easier to accuse a dead man,” Leffler said.

        • DXer said

          Let’s make Kathleen O’Connor Ivins Friend #45:

          Kathleen O’Connor, who met Ivins at a dinner while the two volunteered for the Red Cross, also said she could not believe a man who gave so much of his time to help the community could do something so terrible.

          “They haven’t got a real case. It’s all circumstantial,” O’Connor said after the service. “There’s just no way he could do it. … They just grabbed a convenient person.”

        • DXer said

          Let’s make his daughter Amanda Friend #46:

          “daughter Amanda posted a heartfelt message on her MySpace page, where she listed her mood yesterday as “crushed.”
          “Rest in peace daddy. You will forever be my hero, forever in my heart, and most of all, forever my daddy, I’ll love you always and forever!!!”

        • DXer said

          Let’s make Portland internist and anthrax vaccine expert Meryl Nass Friend #47:

          “Dr. Meryl Nass, an anthrax expert and an Ivins friend, said Fort Detrick employed only liquid anthrax in its testing, not the hard-to-make powered version Ivins was suspected of sending in letters.”

          Note: This was not accurate although no one knew it at the time except the FBI. Dr. Ivins after fall 2001 learned that FBI’s anthrax expert JE had made dried powder aerosol that was used in experiments by his DARPA-funded assistant, JJ, who then went to Johns Hopkins.

        • DXer said

          Let’s made Dr. Gerard Andrews Friend #48:

          “If he was working eight hours a day on spore prep every day, it would be noticed,” said Gerry Andrews, Ivins’ supervisor between 2000 and 2003. “It’s ridiculous.”

          Ivins’ lab – just 200 square feet – was in “highly trafficked areas, and Bruce had colleagues that worked with him every day,” Andrews said.

          Dr. Andrews is online and freely answers questions and yet non-scientist Ed never contacted him to try to get his science right.

        • DXer said

          Question: Has the FBI lifted its gag order applicable to current USAMRIID employees? While I have named 48 and could keep going, there are many dozens more who could not come forward because they were current employees of USAMRIID and bound by a gag order.

          he New York Post
          By Susannah Cahalan
          Last updated: 4:02 am
          November 2, 2008
          Posted: 3:21 am
          November 2, 2008

          It was an open-and-shut case, the FBI said.

          But three months after agents pinned the post-9/11 anthrax mailings on Army scientist Bruce Ivins – who committed suicide as the FBI closed in on him – his former colleagues have approached a lawyer to sue the feds for fingering the wrong man, The Post has learned.

          They argue that the FBI abused its power and violated its own policies as they probed an innocent man for six months.

          One of Ivins’ former colleagues was being aggressively pressured to confess to the crimes just two months before Ivins killed himself on July 29, he told The Post. And he identified at least one other employee who was under the same pressure.

          The move by the Army scientists comes on the heels of a Senate Judiciary Committee demand for an independent review of the case following a hearing with FBI Director Robert Mueller in which committee members called the bureau’s case an “open matter.” The bureau has named a panel of independent scientists to review the evidence against Ivins – a probe that will take six to 18 months.

          Sen. Patrick Leahy, a target of the 2001 anthrax attacks, said at the Judiciary Committee hearings that he doubted Ivins, who worked at Fort Detrick, Md., could have acted alone and that he believes “there are others who could be charged with murder.”

          Anthrax-laced letters were also mailed to then-Sen. Tom Daschle and news media outlets, including The Post.

          “The people at Fort Detrick would love to see some suit brought, some way of reckoning, adjudicating this,” said Ivins’ Maryland-based lawyer, Paul Kemp. The Pentagon had refused a request to allow Ivins’ colleagues to speak to Kemp.

          The case the feds presented rested mainly on these FBI claims:

          * The dry anthrax used in the mailings shared key genetic variables unique to a wet anthrax strain created by Ivins in his lab at Fort Detrick.

          * Ivins logged an increasingly large amount of after-hours overtime in his lab in the weeks leading up to the anthrax mailings.

          * Ivins submitted false samples of anthrax from his lab to the FBI for forensic analysis in order to mislead investigators.

          * Ivins was psychologically troubled and told co-workers that he had “incredible paranoid, delusional thoughts at times” and that he feared he might not be able to control his behavior. They cited his preoccupation with the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma – which included altering its Wikipedia page, e-mailing former members and spreading Internet chatter about the sorority – as indications of an unstable and obsessive mind.

          In interviews with a dozen of Ivins’ colleagues at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, his friends and independent scientists, The Post found many of them would speak only on the condition of anonymity because they believed they were still under FBI surveillance and their phones were being tapped.

          Together, those closest to Ivins cited a laundry list of holes in the feds’ conclusions. They include:

          1) Ivins could not have made dry anthrax spores in his lab without sickening people.

          To convert the wet anthrax strain he had developed at Fort Detrick – the only strain he worked with – into dry anthrax, which can be inhaled and is much more lethal, Ivins would have had to use a lyophilizer, a freeze-drying machine that is able to dry large quantities of liquid.

          Ivins’ colleagues say they never saw the scientist working with dry spores – in fact, dry anthrax was not made at USAMRIID – until he was asked to examine the anthrax-laced letter sent to Daschle.

          The lyophilizer, located in a hallway surrounded by four labs, did not have a protective hood. A hood is necessary to circulate and filter air and make it possible to use the lyophilizer to work with harmful bacteria without the bacteria becoming airborne. Co-workers say the hoodless lyophilizer would have spewed poisonous aerosols, infecting co-workers. But no colleagues of Ivins experienced any symptoms.

          Co-workers also point out that the machine would have to be fully decontaminated after use – a 24-hour process called paraformaldehyde decontamination that involves locking down the lab.

          Without a full decontamination, the machine would have contaminated other bacteria or liquids used on the machine at a later date. And if it had not been decontaminated, the FBI should have been able to find traces of the dry anthrax on the machine. Yet they swabbed Ivins’ machinery numerous times and were unable to find traces of dry anthrax spores in his lab, Kemp said.

          2) Records show that Ivins logged an average of only two hours of overtime in the weeks leading up to the attacks – and even at those times, he could not have gone undetected.

          Even if Ivins did have access to a freeze-drying machine and a protective hood, sources who worked closely with Ivins estimate it would take a minimum of 40 days of continuous work without detection to create the volume of spores used in the attacks.

          “If he was working eight hours a day on spore prep every day, it would be noticed,” said Gerry Andrews, Ivins’ supervisor between 2000 and 2003. “It’s ridiculous.”

          Ivins’ lab – just 200 square feet – was in “highly trafficked areas, and Bruce had colleagues that worked with him every day,” Andrews said.

          Meanwhile, in September and October of 2001, Ivins was involved in 19 research projects, including working on the Department of Defense-funded anthrax vaccine that is now in clinical trials, anthrax vaccine testing on rabbits and monkeys, and an outside project with a government-contracted lab, the Battelle Memorial Institute in Ohio.

          3) The FBI called Ivins the “sole custodian” of the strain of anthrax used in the mailings. But at least 200 people had access to the strain created by Ivins at Fort Detrick.

          More than 100 people had access to Ivins’ lab at USAMRIID. Ivins’ anthrax strain, RMR-1029, was kept there as well as stored at a nearby building between 1997 and 1999, a building to which others had access. In addition, multiple facilities outside of Fort Detrick were sent RMR-1029 for their own research, including government laboratories, the Battelle lab and academic institutions like the University of New Mexico.

          In September, FBI Director Mueller conceded other labs and scientists had access to Ivins’ anthrax, but would not disclose how the bureau had ruled out other suspects.

          4) The FBI has not released any physical evidence linking Ivins to the attacks or defined a motive.

          After obtaining three warrants to search the Ivins home starting in October 2007, the FBI never found a single anthrax spore there – though scientists say the kind of airborne anthrax used in the mailings would have clung to any objects it came in contact with.

          Nor were they able to place Ivins near the Princeton, NJ, mailbox from which all the lethal anthrax letters were mailed – though they noted that a Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter kept its rush materials, initiation robes and other property 100 yards from where the anthrax letters were sent.

          Ivins passed two polygraph tests – one administered after the attacks and another when he became a suspect, according to his lawyer. He also submitted a writing sample that, Kemp said, did not implicate him.

          Co-workers said Ivins stood to gain only $2,000 for a patent and minimal royalties from drug companies for the vaccine he helped produce.

          “There is not one substantial motive,” Andrews said.

          In 2003, USAMRIID implemented a Personnel Reliability Program, with employees undergoing psychiatric evaluations, financial background checks and full medical exams. If Ivins had psychological issues, the Army never flagged them – and instead deemed him capable of working with biological weapons.

          5) The FBI investigation was filled with inconsistencies and bordered on harassment.

          The FBI claims Ivins was a suspect since early 2007, but they waited until July 23, 2008, to gather DNA evidence from him, delayed examining records showing Ivins’ late nights spent in the lab, and waited years to swab the mailbox in Princeton.

          They also allowed Ivins to have full access to the anthrax labs until November 2007.

          Scientists at USAMRIID said the FBI was aggressively pursuing other suspects two months before Ivins killed himself.

          In April 2007, the FBI sent Ivins a letter saying he was “not a target of the investigation” and said it was investigating 42 people who had access to RMR-1029 at the Battelle labs in Ohio, Kemp said.

          Once they identified him as a suspect, the FBI investigators conspicuously tailed Ivins for six months before he killed himself, two neighbors of Ivins told The Post. They sat outside his house in their cars and rented the house next door for stakeouts.

          After three months under surveillance, Ivins hired a lawyer, Kemp, to whom he complained that agents had approached his adopted twins, Amanda and Andy, both 24. Ivins said they offered Andy $2.5 million and a sports car for information on his father, friends confirm.

          To Amanda, they showed pictures of anthrax victims and said, “Look at what your father did,” according to Kemp. The FBI denied this.

          Friends said agents took Ivins’ wife, Diane, and the children to hotels where they grilled them for hours.

          “Most people in Fort Detrick believe that [the FBI was] just going after the weakest link,” said Dr. W. Russell Byrne, Ivins’ supervisor between 1998 and 2000. “It looked like an organized effort in intimidation.”

          Co-workers of Ivins’ were warned by USAMRIID officials not to speak with Ivins in his office, and he was told that he couldn’t participate in work activities or parties. His friends say it was the last straw for a man who relied on work for his social life.

          Since the investigation against Ivins began, workers at USAMRIID have been forced to sign confidentiality agreements.

          FBI spokeswoman Debbie Weierman said: “The FBI is still handling administrative business and closing the loop on outstanding issues. Therefore, the investigation is still pending. However, the case has been solved; as the FBI and the Department of Justice have stated publicly.

          “The FBI is absolutely positive that Dr. Bruce Ivins and only Dr. Bruce Ivins was responsible for the anthrax mailings.”

        • DXer said

          Dr. Verthelyi can be #49:

          “It is hard for me to believe that he would be involved in anything like that,” said Dr. Daniela Verthelyi, who co-invented the patent-pending vaccine additive with Ivins.”

        • DXer said

          His son can be Friend #50:

          ” ‘I love you and I can’t wait to see you in Heaven,’ his son, Andy Ivins, wrote. “

        • DXer said

          Bill McCormick makes #51 and David Danley makes #52:

          Anybody that knew Bruce through his church affiliation is just dumbfounded,” said Bill McCormick, who attended St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Frederick with Ivins for 25 years. He said Ivins was a “quiet, giving kind of guy,” and the news that he was about to be charged in the attacks did not fit with the Ivins he knew.

          David Danley, who worked with Ivins at Fort Detrick to develop a new anthrax vaccine for almost 10 years until 2003, says he has a hard time believing Ivins could be the anthrax killer. He remembers a cute gesture he would make to his daughter when they would see Ivins at their church. “My daughter was involved in a little theater in Frederick,” Danley said. “And whenever she was in a musical, she would walk into church, and [Ivins] would be at the piano. And he would start playing a tune from the musical she was in … just as a quiet sort of hello.”

        • DXer said

          His attorney makes it #53:

          Paul F. Kemp wrote in a statement:

          “For more than a year, we have been privileged to represent Dr. Bruce Ivins during the investigation of the anthrax deaths of September and October of 2001. For six years, Dr. Ivins fully cooperated with that investigation, assisting the government in every way that
          was asked of him. He was a world -renowned and highly decorated scientist who served his country for over 33 years with the Department of the Army. We are saddened by his death, and disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to defend his good name and reputation in a court of law. We assert his innocence in these killings, and would have established that at trial. The relentless pressure of accusation
          and innuendo takes its toll in different ways on different people, as has already been seen in this investigation. In Dr. Ivins’ case, it led to his untimely death. We ask that the media respect the privacy of his family, and allow them to grieve.”

  2. DXer said
    Review of FBI investigation into Fort Detrick Anthrax Attack Suspect Bruce Ivins

    By Gideon Swift | Published: September 21, 2010

    … several lawmakers — including Sen. Chuck Grassley, one of the four who helped Holt pursue the GAO investigation and who has been a vocal critic of the FBI’s work on the case — are still not convinced the FBI adequately proved Ivins’ guilt.

  3. DXer said

    After the email came down from Dr. Ivins’ superior to all his colleagues not to contact him by any means, he may have felt suicidal when not getting any response to his heartfelt expression of admiration.

    From: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
    Subject: RE: ATTENTION PRP personnel (UNCLASSIFIED)
    Date: Saturday, November 03, 2007 2:57:56 PM

    Thank you, and thank you for your support and friendship. It means an enormous amount to me.
    I’ll be on medical leave (as directed by my psychiatrist) until January 3, 2008. At that time I’ll put in my
    retirement papers and see how things go.

    Thank you and everyone in the division for everything. You all are the best.

    Bruce Ivins
    Sent: Friday, November 02, 2007 5:13 PM

    To: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID;
    Subject: Re: ATTENTION PRP personnel
    Importance: High

    • DXer said

      From: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
      Subject: Select Agent Inventory Transfer (UNCLASSIFIED)
      Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 2:06:02 PM
      Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
      Caveats: NONE

      My Select Agents in will need to be transferred from me (Bruce Ivins) to There will
      have to be an accounting of the material, and can do it from my lab. Somebody from lab
      ( should also be there when the inventory is taken.

      or could you set up a time with to go through the inventory? It’ll probably take
      up a full day to go through the strains, which are located in the refrigerator, coldroom and –
      70C freezer in the hallway.

      Bruce Ivins

    • DXer said

      Now my source of intelligence on these matters assures me that there is nothing incriminating in batches #83 et seq. either, but the procedure has been that the FBI/DOJ delays and needs to approve batches of emails for release — and that approval is delayed.

      (It has taken 2 years to produce a simple stack of documents and so don’t think for a second our government can keep us safe).

      As part of the GAO investigation, the GAO should assess who was responsible — who continues to be responsible two years later — for the delay in producing documents.

      As to this simple stack of Dr. Ivins’ emails that should have been produced in September 2008, I’ve asked jpp to preserve all his emails and not to do so would constitute spoliation of evidence.

      The suggestion by the Homeland Security that the USG is pushing information out to the public is crock PR if this case study is any indication.

      Instead, the FBI has caused the withholding of important documents — including all the science which in no way indicates or confirm Ivins’ guilt — for over 2 years.

      Even under the FBI’s theory, the genetics only limits the field to 200-300.

      The public will be startled at how irrelevant the NAS report seems. In contrast, the actual science documents on the full range of issues (to include those not addressed by the NAS currently in its draft report being circulated, once those documents are forced to be produced in FOIA litigation, affirmatively exculpate Dr. Ivins (e.g., photocopy toner expert report).

  4. DXer said

    September 20th, 2010- by Homeland Security Blogwatch
    Investigation Into Anthrax Attacks Continues – CQ Homeland Security

    The Government Accountability Office has accepted a request from Congress to open an inquiry into the FBI’s handling of the anthrax attacks on lawmakers and the media in the fall of 2001.

    The request was part of an ongoing push from Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., to investigate the government’s response to the incident. When the House passed its fiscal 2010 intelligence authorization bill (HR 2701), it did so after approving an amendment that Holt authored that would require the intelligence community’s inspector general to determine whether there was any foreign connection to the anthrax attacks. After the White House objected to the language, Holt fired off a letter to Office of Management and Budget defending it.

    The congressman also wrote to the chairmen of four House panels in May requesting that they conduct their own investigations into the government’s role in the anthrax case.

    Holt’s actions came shortly after the Justice Department announced on Feb. 19 that its investigation into the anthrax attacks was closed. The department released an investigative summary and a sheaf of FBI documents related to the case that concluded Bruce E. Ivins, a scientist working at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, was solely responsible, CQ reported. Ivins committed suicide in 2008.

    Read more:

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