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

* selected extracts from the presentation of Dr. Meryl Nass at the Nov 29, 2010 anthrax seminar

Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 2, 2010

Dr. John Ezzell, Lew Weinstein, Ross Getman, Dr. Meryl Nass, Paul Kemp, Dr. James Van de Velde at the Anthrax Mailings Investigation seminar ... UC Washington Center Nov 29, 2010

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The full text of Dr. Nass’ presentation has been posted on her blog site …

http://anthraxvaccine.blogspot.com/2010/11/fbis-anthrax-letters-investigation.html

Here are selected extracts …

  • FBI tried to close this case on August 1, 2008, 3 days after Bruce’s death.  The FBI orchestrated a crescendo of leaks about Bruce over several days, full of lurid details that aimed to create a picture of a “lone nut” for the American public.  Much of this material was inaccurate or exaggerated … a tawdry attempt to bury one of the most important cases the FBI has ever investigated.
  • the anthrax letters helped pave the way for passage of the USA Patriot Act, for going to war with Iraq … and for expansion of the federal biodefense budget to 50 billion dollars and counting.
  • Were aspects of Bruce’s death orchestrated as well?  Although the anthrax letters case was one of the FBI’s biggest ever, Bruce’s death somehow didn’t warrant an autopsy or an inquest. I have seen no report or evidence that the FBI informed anyone, especially Bruce’s medical providers, of his Tylenol ingestion.   Doing so in a timely manner would have almost certainly saved Bruce’s life and allowed the FBI to bring its case against him to its legal conclusion. Nor did FBI intervene to hasten Bruce receiving medical attention after his ingestion.

SOME FAILURES IN THE FBI’S CASE …

1.    FBI sent a letter to Bruce in April 2007, stating that he was not a target of the investigation.

2.    Why was no DNA obtained from Bruce until the week before his death?

3.    Why did Bruce retain his security clearance until 19 days before his death?

4.    FBI has failed to find evidence placing Bruce in New Jersey where the letters were mailed.

5.    FBI has failed to show how Bruce could have been at the mailbox during the window of time in which the letters were sent.

6.    FBI failed to find any anthrax contamination in Bruce’s car, home or possessions, although the simple act of placing a letter in the mailbox would have led to massive spore contamination of everything in the area, including the mailer. (See paper by FBI’s Doug Beecher)

7.    FBI’s February 2010 report tries to have it both ways.  It claims that flask RMR1029 was under Bruce’s exclusive control between its 1997 creation and the anthrax letter attacks.  The report claims that “only a very limited number of individuals had access” to the flask.  Later it admits that approximately 400 people at USAMRIID and a Midwest contractor laboratory had access to the spores.

8.    FBI claims Bruce had the know-how to produce the weaponized spores found in the Leahy-Daschle letters.  But FBI itself has failed to reverse engineer the spore production method, does not know what that method entails, and therefore cannot possibly know if Bruce had either the knowledge or access to all the equipment needed to produce such spores.

9.    FBI has failed to find any trace of the strain of Bacillus subtilis that contaminated the anthrax spores in the first set of letters, at USAMRIID or anywhere else.  Had the contaminated batch of anthrax been made at USAMRIID, the Bacillus subtilis strain would have contaminated the work space and been identified.

10.    FBI claims it ruled out 400 people who had access to the spores, but fails to explain anything about the processes used to rule these people out.

11.    Bruce passed two FBI polygraph tests, but later FBI claimed he used “classic” countermeasures to thwart the polygraphs.  Experts dispute this FBI claim.

12.    FBI’s report claims Bruce had access to a photocopier, but fails to note it was not the copier used to produce the anthrax letters.

13.    FBI initially reported that the water the spores were grown in came from the Frederick, Maryland area.  FBI later backed off this claim.

14.    FBI initially said that minor deviations in the pre-franked envelopes used for the anthrax letters showed they were purchased from the Frederick, Maryland post office.  Later FBI acknowledged they were sold widely in Maryland and Virginia.

15.    Nowhere in the February 2010 FBI report is there any acknowledgement that the crime could have involved more than one person.  Yet in my opinion, the logistics are such that it is almost a certainty more than one person was involved.

16.    The FBI obtained nearly all its 1,000 anthrax samples voluntarily from labs in the US and abroad.  This assumed that theanthrax mailer fully complied with the FBI request, even though it might incriminate him.  I’d call this a risky assumption, which undermines the foundation of the FBI’s entire case.

17.    FBI’s report postulates that two one-week windows of opportunity existed in which each batch of anthrax letter spores could have been grown, processed and mailed.  The time period for the first set of letters was September 11 through 18, 2001.  The period for the second set was October 1 through 8, 2001 (see page 6 of the FBI report).  FBI therefore reported focusing its investigation on individuals who had access to flask RMR 1029 and an anthrax “hot room” (a.k.a. BL 3 or 4 high containment laboratory) during these periods, in its attempt to identify and investigate all potential perpetrators. However, there are several problems with this assumption.  First, the US government did not know how many high containment labs existed in the US and abroad in 2001, as they did not have to be registered or inspected.  Some may have belonged to private companies or individuals. Second, although the anthrax letters were mailed during short windows of time, and the text included with the letters was probably written shortly before mailing, there is no reason to think that the spores had to be grown and processed during these periods. Since the FBI was unable to duplicate the process used to produce the spores, it is uncertain whether production in a particular lab could be completed during a one-week period. Spore production and processing could have taken place considerably earlier, and/or the spores might have been supplied to the mailer by another person.

NAS review of FBI’s anthrax science

The National Academy of Science panel will issue its report on the FBI’s microbial forensics soon.  But given the lack of information available for evaluation in the open literature, the NAS panel is handicapped by its overwhelming reliance on briefings by the FBI and its contracted scientists.  Until the standard procedures of peer review described above are completed, it will be very difficult to determine the validity and usefulness of the FBI’s research.

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LMW COMMENT …

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 doesn’t the FBI offer America a credible story?

I can imagine only 3 possible “actual” scenarios …

  1. The FBI has more evidence against Dr. Ivins but is, for some undisclosed reason, withholding that evidence … POSSIBLE BUT NOT SO LIKELY
  2. The FBI, despite the most expensive and extensive investigation in its history, has not solved the case and has no idea who prepared and mailed the anthrax letters that killed 5 Americans in 2001 … EVEN LESS LIKELY
  3. The FBI knows who did it (not Dr. Ivins) but is covering up the actual perpetrators, for undisclosed reasons … THE MOST LIKELY SCENARIO

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 regarding Dr. Ivins.

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

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36 Responses to “* selected extracts from the presentation of Dr. Meryl Nass at the Nov 29, 2010 anthrax seminar”

  1. DXer said

    http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=113342

    Ivin’s lawyer, colleague share details FBI left out
    Originally published December 05, 2010

    By Megan Eckstein
    News-Post Staff

    Nine years have passed since five people were killed and 17 sickened by anthrax spores mailed to lawmakers and news outlets, and it’s been nine months since the FBI closed its investigation into those attacks.
    But new information about the anthrax, the investigation and the suspect still continue to emerge.

    On Nov. 29, the University of California’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation hosted a seminar on the Amerithrax investigation. Experts have spent years doubting that Fort Detrick scientist Bruce Ivins committed the crime, as the FBI alleges, but they have never gathered to share their knowledge and theories until Monday’s meeting at the university’s Washington Center.

    Drying anthrax

    Among those in attendance Monday was John Ezzell, a former researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases who hired Ivins.

    Ezzell sat quietly in the audience until a technical question was asked and he stood up to share his insight. He wound up speaking for about 15 minutes in what were his first public comments about anthrax and the subsequent investigation into the attacks.

    As part of his comments, Ezzell spoke in detail about how to turn wet anthrax samples, such as the kind Ivins worked with, into the dry powder used in the attack letters. He said the wet anthrax would first have to be put in a centrifuge, which turns the spores into a pellet that is dark brown on the bottom, tan in the middle and white on top.

    “The upper part, which is white, is almost pure spores,” Ezzell said. “So when you’re purifying spores out of a material like (Ivins’), you use the centrifuge, you only remove the upper portion of that, and then you wash it and discard the bottom two colors.”

    From there, Ezzell said a scientist would have to carefully dry the spores with a lyophillizer or a speed vacuum. The tough part about that process is that either method will cause the pellet to blow apart. Ezzell said that, based on his knowledge of anthrax production and the specifics of the anthrax used in the attacks, he believes the spores were under high centrifugation while being dried with a speed vacuum, the combination of which would dry the anthrax while keeping it in pellet form. From there, a razor blade could chop up the pellet into the form it was found in in the first two letters, which were of poorer quality than the more uniformly colored and textured anthrax in the second two letters.

    ‘Snow white’ or pepper-like?

    Ezzell surprised the crowd Monday when he said the anthrax in the first two letters, addressed to TV newsman Tom Brokaw and the New York Post, resembled pepper more than the white fluffy powder everyone imagined. The anthrax in the second group of letters, sent to Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, were of noticeably better quality but still not nearly as pure as what Ezzell was producing in his lab.

    “The spores that were prepared in my lab were snow white, whereas the spores in the Daschle and Leahy letters were tan, and the material that went to Tom Brokaw’s office and the New York Post were very granular and multicolored,” Ezzell said. Whoever produced the anthrax in the first two letters likely chopped up the entire anthrax pellet instead of just the white section with pure anthrax spores.

    “The material in the Daschle and Leahy letters, I don’t think that was quite as pure as people think it is,” Ezzell said, adding he disagreed with the FBI’s assertion that those samples resembled the spores he produced.

    Anthrax samples lost

    Ivins’ attorney, Paul Kemp, who spoke during the seminar’s first panel, said the FBI lost or broke a sample of anthrax Ivins submitted for analysis, one of a number of mistakes that he said compromised the agency’s investigation.

    In the FBI’s 92-page report released in February when the department closed the Amerithrax case, a section titled “Dr. Ivins Made Many Statements, and Took Many Actions, Evidencing his Guilty Conscience” describes Ivins as improperly submitting samples of his own anthrax strains to the FBI for analysis. But Kemp said Ivins’ did that because no one admitted to him that the first sample had been mishandled.

    “These were samples produced by Bruce himself on February 5th of 2002; they were the kind of samples you submit by stirring up the anthrax, not by pure culture samples just going in and collecting anthrax from any of the beads in the wet anthrax, but by mixing it all up so you get all the morphological variants,” Kemp said.

    The FBI requested another sample in April 2002, according to Kemp because they needed to replace the first sample they mishandled. But Ivins, not knowing the FBI no longer had his first sample, sent in the other type of sample, the pure culture sample that kept each colony of bacteria separate instead of mixing them together.

    “They then say that his April sample which they asked him to submit is questionable or suspicious because it was a pure culture sample, not the mixed-up kind of sample where you stir it all up,” Kemp said. “He submits the only other kind of sample there is, the pure culture sample. And he submits many variations, many slants of that, in April. É He did so timely, without any protest, without any delay.”

    Tylenol overdose

    Meryl Nass, a physician who has written extensively about anthrax vaccines and the Amerithrax investigation, gave the seminar attendees some insight into Ivins’ final days.

    Ivins overdosed on Tylenol PM on July 26, 2008, and died on July 29. But Nass said, medically speaking, the outcome of his overdose should have been different.

    Ivins was brought to Frederick Memorial Hospital by an ambulance early on the morning of July 27. He was under constant surveillance, and Nass said the FBI agents watching him could have, but didn’t, inform the doctors that he had purchased two bottles of Tylenol PM a few days earlier.

    Nass said there is no evidence that the FBI agents helped get Ivins medical attention quicker or let anyone know about the Tylenol purchase.

    “It takes from two to several days for liver failure to occur after ingesting a large dose of Tylenol,” according to a document Nass handed out at the seminar. She said there is an effective antidote, called N-acetyl cysteine, that helps the body detoxify the substance created as the liver metabolizes the Tylenol. Nass said death rates from a Tylenol overdose is “extremely rare when this safe, easily available treatment is given in a timely manner.”

  2. DXer said

    If you want to get an interview that would explain the entire background, interview Ayman’s sister Heba at Cairo Medical in the microbiology department where Tarek Hamouda, the Richard Holbrooke-funded Ames researcher supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins, got his PhD in 1996. People more often than you think will just speak the truth. Most confusion and wrong steps just result from people not reading or asking questions. I have found Salafists, including Ali Al-Timimi’s and Ayman Zawahiri’s closest friends, to be refreshingly direct and honest. Montasser Al-Zayat. Mamdouh Ismail. Kamal Habib. Tawfiq Hamid. Khalid Hamid. All of them would be great interviews. In the biggest criminal investigation in the history of the United States, the press has done no analysis and merely been reporting (the incorrect) water cooler talk. They were hanging out at the wrong water coolers.

  3. Maybe I don’t understand something but the following seem relevant on the issue of Ezzell’s lab identifying RMR-1029.

    1. Didn’t they get samples of RMR-1029 from other labs that had gotten it from Ivins?

    2. If they get a sample back from Battelle and it matches the letter anthrax, didn’t they ask Battelle where they got theirs from? So Battelle says we got it from Ivins. So Ezzell’s lab asks Ivins what did they send Battelle?

    3. Ezzell’s group apparently never identified any batch as the same as the letter anthrax? Because anything they identified would have led to them going down the chain back to Ivins RMR-1029.

    4. But this never happened.

    5. It was Paul Keim at Northern Arizona who identified the RMR-1029 from Ivins. To what? Photos of letter anthrax?

    6. All the other places that had gotten RMR-1029 never sent it to Ezzell? Because any such batch sent to Ezzell would have led back to Ivins?

    7. Was any other sample thrown out?

    8. Ezzell was an employee of the FBI? So he should not have thrown out evidence. And his lab never identified any RMR-1029 submitted by anyone?

    9. Ezzell’s lab had used RMR-1029 to grow anthrax prior to this? So they knew what it looked like. Was that the main anthrax they knew for their own experiments? So to them, that was their reference for what anthrax should look like?

    10. RMR-1029 was in their building for a time? They knew where it was, and presumably knew what it looked like and in fact it was their personal experience of what anthrax looked like?

    11. But despite all this, Ezzell’s group never recognized RMR-1029 submitted by anyone, only Paul Keim did and Keim recognized only the RMR-1029 from Ivins?

    12. So out of all the RMR-1029 used and sent to people, only one single match was made and that was by Keim to Ivins sample?

    13. How can this method work if no other samples of RMR-1029 were ever identified by Keim or any one else? Either they can’t identify, or the samples were not sent, or they didn’t identify them with the letter anthrax. In those cases, the investigation failed on this. If they identified any other source, why didn’t they trace it back to Ivins and just go look at the RMR-1029 themselves?

    • Someone came up with the idea of a visual test for morphs of anthrax. Where? From looking at the actual letter anthrax? Or looking at photos? Where did they have the letter anthrax? At Ft. Detrick only?

      So if you are looking at letter anthrax and are thinking about a visual identification test based on morphs, wouldn’t you go look at all the flasks of anthrax at Ft. Detrick to see what they look like? Just to think about your test?

      If Ezzell’s lab had used RMR-1029 already, wouldn’t they go look at that flask and see what it looks like? Didn’t they want to know what a lot of anthrax flasks looked like before committing to this test? So wouldn’t they look at all the ones at Ft. Detrick themselves just to get an idea if this made sense or not? Just so they would know how in fact different flasks of anthrax look?

      If not, did anyone look at an actual flask of anthrax before deciding on this test? Were they people who had seen flasks of anthrax before? Who decided on it or was consulted?

      Didn’t they have a lot of people at Ft. Detrick comment on this? How could RMR-1029 be the regular Ft. Detrick anthrax and no one look at it or notice it was the same as the letter anthrax? Or no one looked at any flask at Ft. Detrick even the group that was to do the comparison in Ezzell’s lab? That doesn’t make sense. Didn’t they care about the work they were doing?

      • Did someone at NAS think of these questions? Did they ask the FBI for answers to these questions in writing? From Battelle and Dugway? Was the result no response? So the FBI has gotten these questions from NAS is stonewalling and that is why the NAS report is not released?

      • DXer said

        I believe it was JE’s assistant Terry Abshire who first noticed and chose the four morphs. Others could have been chosen.

        • DXer said

          Did I mention Terry had a conflict of interest if she worked in the lab that used the “murder weapon” to make a dried powdered Ames aerosol for the agency funding the former Zawahiri associate?

      • Thank you for your patient explanation. But did Battelle or other places send them RMR-1029?

        Also if they identified 8 flasks at Ft. Detrick from RMR-1029, why didn’t they try to match it to RMR-1029?

        If Battelle sent an RMR-1029 sample and it matched, didn’t they then ask Battelle who gave it to them? Didn’t Battelle say Ivins. Didn’t they then talk to Ivins? Ask Ivins what flask he sent them material from?

        When they matched 4 of the 8, and those 4 came from RMR-1029, why didn’t they test RMR-1029? Why did it take for Keim to identify it?

        Also has there been a match test? Take 10 flasks, take a sample from each with a number or letter and then see if people can match them back to the original 10 flasks? Fingerprint experts can pass this test.

      • DXer said

        Ha! Ed says “They had no reason to take a look at flask RMR-1029”

        They knew the attack anthrax was Ames and that flask RMR-1029 was the biggest source of Ames. They knew early on that the attack anthrax was a mixture of two strains and they knew (or should have known) RMR-1029 was a mixture of two strains. Of course they had a reason to take a look at flask RMR-1029.

        • Yes, it seems that RMR-1029 was a uniquely important and interesting flask to understand. Once they got 1 and certainly 2 daughters of RMR-1029 they should have gotten Ivins, his lab assistants, Ezzell and his assistants and gone over together what was going on.

      • BugMaster said

        ” You have to mix up the contents of the flask and then take a tiny sample of spores and spread them on a plate of agar to grow. When the material on the plate has grown for a certain time, you can then look at the plate and see if there are any visible mutations.”

        That’s right, Ed, VISIBLE MUTATIONS!!!

        As in colonies that were fromed from a colony froming unit of ONE MUTANT CELL.

        And if there was a clump of non-mutated cells along with the mutant, YOU WOULDN’T IN MOST CASES SEE THE MUTANT!

        If at any point the sample was subcultured (which by definition, happened because a “slant” is a subculture) and transformation occurred, YOU WOULD NOT DECTECT AS MANY MUTANTS, since they are SOME ARE NO LONGER THERE.

        If the morphological characteristics of the mutants are encoded by plasmid DNA, and the plasmid is lost (IT HAPPENS!) you WOULDN’T DETECT AS MANY MUTANTS, BECAUSE SOME ARE NO LONGER THERE!

        It was very good science that identified flask RMR-1029.

        The problem is the FBI focused on Ivins after THEY COULD NOT FIND ANY MUTANTS in a sample Ivins submitted.

        So, was Ivins trying to deceive, or did they FBI end up with a false negative?

        In regards to the slants, (Remel slants) the FBI requested that material be submitted on a slant consisting of pre-prepared media (Remel makes pre-prepared media) rather than media Ivins himself prepared.

        This makes sense, the FBI wanted to eliminate as many variables as possible.

        • DXer said

          In May 2002, Ivins’ assistant still had to ask for the instructions and slants.

          The xxxx (name redacted) scientist speculated as to why Ivins submitted did not use the specified slant. But the documentary evidence shows that he and his assistant were still needing to ask for it in MAY 2002.

          The xxxx (name redacted) did not remember the conversation with Ivins in February and merely presumes he sent the instructions then. Yet he has no fax transmittal slip indicating that it was faxed.

          Who was xxxx. Dr. Ezzell?

          The FBI can’t fault Dr. Ivins for the lost sample if it was Dr. Ezzell, who used the same anthrax to make a dried Ames aerosol, destroyed it and had been the one responsible for communicating the protocol — which the documentary evidence shows was first communicated on May 24, 2002.

    • DXer said

      Dr. Ezzell was an employee of USAMRIID. As he noted, he hired Dr. Ivins. He worked with the FBI since at least 1998 dealing with mailed letters.

      I don’t mean to fault him for throwing out what was submitted. I mean to say that you can’t turn that inside out and somehow find fault with Ivins. Indeed, the entire FBI narrative on this issue is a crock and contradicted by the documentary evidence. The May 2002 email expressly shows Ivins’ lab trying to get the slants and the instructions. Please answer, the email pleaded. Rachel Lieber’s discussion in her summary accusation against Ivins contradicts the May 24, 2002 email.

      As I recall, one withdrawal from Flask 1029 for the Johns-Hopkins experiments with Ames was August 2000. It was lyophilized. A 302 and JE indicate that it was kept in the refrigerator in Room 212 in Building 1412. The interviewee was surprised to see it but JE notes that it was not an unusual place to store it.

      Dr. Ivins did not know of the making of dried powder at USAMRIID by JE (or anyone else).

      There is a big issue of where the leftover virulent Ames given the FBI’s anthrax expert went after Joany Jackman, his assistant who had been doing the Johns-Hopkins research, left USAMRIID. I emailed her but she did not respond.

      • Thanks for your patient explanations on these points. It does seem that their whole narrative is a crock on the issue of these morphs and their testing.

        It simply makes no sense that as one and then two daughter flasks of RMR-1029 were identified that they did not have a big meeting of Ivins and his assistants and Ezzell and his and hash out an id of RMR-1029.

  4. DXer said

    It was Dr. Ezzell’s lab that threw out the sample. It was not the fellow from Dr. Keim’s lab, Kimothy Smith, who provided the former Zawahiri associate, a non-citizen, a BL-3 at LSU to work with virulent anthrax. It was the Keim lab at NAU where the genetics expert was that had the duplicate – and it was that duplicate later relied upon to show that it had the 4 morphs and later to lay the foundation for the claim that Ivins later submitted a false sample.

    Both Dr. Ezzell and Dr. Kimothy Smith, despite their integrity and expertise, had a conflict of interest on this issue. The sample collection and genetics analysis is hopelessly tainted.

    The Amerithrax Summary states:

    “Because of this inconsistency, and knowing that Dr. Ivins also prepared a submission to the FBIR on February 27, 2002, WHICH WAS DESTROYED BY DR. EZZELL’S LAB, investigators contacted Dr. Keim and learned that he still maintained the duplicate slants of Dr. Ivins’s initial submission. In late 2006, the FBI obtained from Dr. Keim the duplicate slants from Dr. Ivins’s submission of February 27, 2002. Based on the handwriting on the labels from the slants, it was clear that Dr. Ivins and his lab technician each prepared two labels.”

    That Senior Lab technician was the Former Colleague #2, Patricia Fellows, the scientist thanked by the former Zawahiri associate for providing technical assistance in connection with his work with virulent Ames at Ft. Detrick with Bruce in a BL-3.

    She too has a conflict of interest despite her presumed good faith.

    My experience in talking with John is that he is acting in good faith and just doesn’t know the big picture — or the answer to the whodunnit. The FBI’s anthrax expert merely thinks that Ivins (see the videotape) “possibly” could have done it.

    So, in short, it was this well-intentioned fellow who made the dried powdered Ames for DARPA from that material supplied by Dr. Ivins who threw out the material. That scientist made the dried powdered Ames for DARPA, which funded the former Zawahiri associate. The former Zawahiri associate then received $25 million from a DC venture fund named Perseus, which was headed by Richard Holbrooke, now in charge of things in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Then there was another $25 million from Perseus.

    Notwithstanding the presumed good faith of everyone involved, Dr. Ivins never had a chance.

    Is it any wonder he was acutely depressed?

    But then again, the prosecution of Dr. Ivins never stood a chance either.

    The Amerithrax Ivins Theory is a mountain of innuendo built on a foundation of conflict of interest that riddled the investigation.

    To borrow the phrase of the former FBI head of counterterrorism (I’m not big at remembering titles) when he wrote me, Amerithrax is a “mess.”

  5. DXer said

    Note that on his timeline Ed states:

    “February – Ivins sends samples from flask RMR-1029 to the FBI repository (FBIR) but does not follow proper protocols, so they are not valid as evidence.”

    and yet Ed cites no record evidence, in contrast to his other entries for which he cites the record, even as to the statement that it was Ivins who prepared and sent the samples rather than someone from his lab.

    Ed, what is the best evidence you rely upon for the claim is the one who prepared and sent the samples in February?

    In an email dated May 24, 2002 Dr. Ivins received a response to his lab person’s plea for guidance from John (the FBI anthrax expert who spoke this past week). Dr. Ivins received an email forwarding “instructions sent to those labs outside USAMRIID.” Dr. Ivins forwarded the instructions, received on May 24, 2002, to his assistant preparing the slants. The documentary position does not support Ed or the government’s assertions. Can they locate documentary evidence from 2002 that does?

    So as to what transpired in February 2002, what is the best evidence that Ed is relying upon?

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/dr-bruce-ivins-may-2002-ive-located-the-stocks-the-fbi-wants/

    • DXer said

      “On February 27, 2002, one of the FBI Special Agents heading up the scientific side of the investigation received a telephone call from Dr. Ivins regarding the submission. This agent no longer has an independent recollection of the telephone call from Ivins, but his contemporaneous notes from the call reflected that Dr. Ivins identified himself as a research microbiologist and provided his telephone number and facsimile number. Dr. Ivins also identified which cultures of B. anthracis he had in his possession, though RMR-1029 was not listed. One of the cultures noted, however, was “1987 spores fm Dugway,” which is likely a reference to RMR-1029 with an incorrect date of 1987 instead of 1997. The agent noted: “will set up slants per subpoena today,” referencing Dr. Ivins. Given the notation of Dr. Ivins’s fax number and this statement, this agent believes that he faxed the protocol to Dr. Ivins that day for use in preparing his submissions.”

      If the agent had faxed the protocol, he would have the fax transmittal sheet and the document sheet. The agent does not even remember the conversation and no judge would be impressed that in connection with the conversation he doesn’t remember that he remembers faxing the protocol.

      Moreover, if he had faxed the protocol, there would be no need for the May 24, 2002 email emphatically asking that the instructions/protocol be sent.

      The Amerithrax Summary continues:

      “On February 27, 2002, slants of four different Ames strain cultures were prepared by Dr. Ivins and his senior laboratory technician.”

      Who was his senior laboratory technician? That would have been the Former Colleague #2, Patricia Fellows, who was thanked by the former Zawahiri associate for her technical assistance.

      The Summary continues:

      ” In accordance with the protocol, duplicate submissions of each culture were prepared, resulting in a total of eight slants. The labels Dr. Ivins prepared were consistent with the instructions of the protocol, and included notations indicating that the sample was the Ames strain, and was prepared by Dr. Ivins on that date. All eight slants were given to Dr. Ezzell’s lab at USAMRIID, and the four duplicates were forwarded from there to Dr. Paul Keim at Northern Arizona University.

      On or before March 28, 2002 – the date the FBIR was officially up and running and had received its first sample, FBIR001 – Dr. Ezzell’s lab technician advised Dr. Ivins and his lab technician that their submissions were not prepared according to the protocol. Specifically, Dr. Ivins and his lab technician used homemade slants as opposed to the commercially available Remel slants specified by the protocol, so the four slants prepared on February 27, 2002 were rejected by the FBIR, and Dr. Ivins was told to resubmit his culture samples on the appropriate slants.”

      “On April 10, 2002, Dr. Ivins again prepared submissions of four different Ames cultures to the FBIR, this time using the appropriate slants. However, this time, he put his name on only one of the labels and omitted other relevant information. As before, eight total slants were prepared and given to Dr. Ezzell’s lab, who then forwarded the four duplicates to Dr. Keim for strain typing. This time, all four slants were accepted by the FBIR.”

      Ed is mistaken that the slants submitted by Patricia Fellows in February would not have been admissible as evidence. He has no legal training and no familiarity with the rules of evidence that apply. Not only would that one have been admissible but the duplicate obtained from Dr. Keim would also have been if Dr. Ivins not committed suicide.

      It would have also been possible to show that his Senior laboratory technician submitted the February 2002 slants that Ed has discussed — that Ed says were intentionally thrown out (although it is not yet clear who threw them out).

      • Assistants don’t always follow instructions. Then they are not always forthcoming about it later.

        And what about all those other RMR-1029 samples floating around?

        Did Ivins give Ezzell RMR-1029 at an earlier date for Ezzell to use in his work? So Ezzell already had gotten RMR-1029 from Ivins and himself knew where it was anyhow. Ezzell could just go get it. Didn’t Ezzell, in theory, have to submit samples to himself of the RMR-1029 he had gotten from Ivins earlier (if he had) as part of all this?

        • DXer said

          You raise a good point.

          John tells me and the audience at the conference that he kept virulent Ames supplied by Bruce Ivins from Flask 1029 in the refrigerator in Room 212 in Building 1412. That should also have had 4 morphs. And so the FBI anthrax expert apparently also had genetically matching anthrax.

          Now I don’t doubt his good faith. To hear him immediately convinces you of his forthrightness. A very elegant man. But I am just bowled over by the acute conflict of interest he had, as it turns out, through no fault of his own.

          And my concern is that given the NAS is only concerned with scientific matters, and the FBI’s withholding of documents, they may not have the documents available for them to get at the issue and be able to assess “taint.”

          It would be as the murder weapon (the US Attorney’s term) was found in the refrigerator of the lovely Bones, on the TV show by that name. Now on the TV show they can do all sorts of weird things that fly in the face of basic conflict of principles — such as happened when her Dad was accused of murder. But in the real world, the genetics evidence was sunk — perhaps through no one’s fault. I presume everyone’s good faith except Ayman Zawahiri’s.

          In this instance of the submitted sample, there were multiple conflicts:

          (1) the FBI anthrax expert collecting the sample had the same genetically matching anthrax that he used to make a dried aerosol powder (a fact that was kept secret for 8 years and only came out when I called him);

          (2) he made it at the request of DARPA, which funded a former Zawahiri associate to the tune of millions of dollars. That former Zawahiri associate, even though a non-citizen, worked at BL-3 labs at USARMIID, LSU… had his decontamination tested at Johns-Hopkins where the DARPA work was done.. and at Edgewood apparently in 2001 … and even did aerosol testing at Dugway.

          His work was funded BY RICHARD HOLBROOKE. Mr. Holbrooke headed Perseus, a DC venture firm. The firm invested $25 million in NanoBio, the Ann Arbor company based on the decontamination agent. Then there was another $25 million.

          Now the 16 pages about his research with Bruce Ivins, judging from the record produced, was not obtained until February 2005. That is extremely negligent investigation unless appearances are deceiving.

          This Holbrooke/Perseus funding would be a speed bump that would derail almost any investigation.

          (3) A duplicate sample had been sent to PaulKeim’s lab, where the key (after Keim) FBI genetics expert was Kimothy Smith who provided the former Zawahiri associate the BL-3 lab at LSU. That duplicate sample was found to have the 4 morphs. Dr. Smith, despite his utter good faith, had a conflict of interest. (His close friend Pamala Coker, by the way, developed a more virulent Ames and published Patricia Fellows’ research on the subject; they inserted duplicate x101 and x102 plasmids).

          (4) The sample collected in the Spring of 2002 was prepared by the Senior Lab person in Ivin’s lab — that would appear to Patricia Fellows, the Former Colleague #2 accusing Dr. Ivins who was thanked by the former Zawahiri associate for technical assistance. Despite her good faith, she had a conflict of interest.

          (5) The FBI scientist overseeing this process was the collection scientist at the ATCC bacteriology division where Ali Al-Timimi shared a suite with the leading Ames researchers and was coordinating with Anwar Awlaki. He was the go-to guy for anthrax. He has a conflict of interest and should not be heard to withhold documents from the NAS.

          (6) Ali Al-Timimi was the former assistant of Andrew Card, former White House Chief of Staff. The White House conducted warrantless NSA wiretapping of Al-Timimi, and excluded the Amerithrax Task Force from even knowing about the wiretapping. The authorization was codename CYA. When Director Mueller had that showdown with Card about the warrantless NSA wiretapping (see Eric Lipton’s book), the something else that hasn’t come out yet perhaps related to Amerithrax. I’m very surprised given that Director Mueller strikes me as tremendously hardworking and principled that he hasn’t set things right in Amerithrax. Perhaps he is just too busy to parse the Amerithrax Summary and see it for the cotton-candy conjecture (and contradicted by the documentary evidence) that it is.

          (7) The chief Amerithrax prosecutor, Daniel Seikaly, was the father of the lawyer, the beautiful Katherine, who then represented Ali Al-Timimi for free. (The family historically are Palestinian activists). He had moved over from the CIA on September 19, 2001. He pled the 5th over the hyped allegations over Hatfill.

          I recommend that the sensible way to proceed out of this morass if for the NAS to apply settled conflict of interest principles and find the genetics evidence tainted.

          There are intercepted documents, electronic intercepts, confessions and all sorts of things that are going to cause a shit storm. I call it OPERATION SUPERCELL. You had better take cover in the safe harbor called truth.

          Then everyone can produce the documents required by law and we can all go home.

          You folks in D.C. and NYC — targeted for destruction with anthrax by Ayman Zawahiri — might not want to go home. If the government really is going to screw the pooch on Amerithrax, you might want to move.

          Now as for the suggestion that Amerithrax won’t be reopened but folks might merely “rethink” it, there’s a guy who once said:

          You are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

          Way way more evidence is going to come out and you do NOT want to have held back on doing the right thing or else you are going to be swept up in the supercell cloud.

    • DXer said

      The Amerithrax Summary, in contrast to the August 18, 2008 summary you rely upon, explains that his Senior lab assistant also prepared the February slants.

      Moreover, the May 24, 2002 is documentary evidence that disproves your claim he had been provided the protocols. By all means, cite documentary evidence and not xxxx. And certainly don’t rely on xxxx’s speculation that Ivins might have been “screwing with people’s heads.”

  6. DXer said

    On the issue of the destruction of the samples submitted by someone in 2002 from Dr. Ivins lab, a sample case is the decision involving Philip Morris USA, 327 F. Supp. 2d 21 (D.D.C. 2004). There the destruction violated the written corporate policy. So one question under Philip Morris is: what was the written protocol in Dr. Keim’s NAU lab regarding the preservation of samples sent to the lab in connection with Amerithrax, already headed toward being the biggest criminal investigation in history. In Philip Morris, a $2,750,000 penalty was levied against the individuals who had destroyed emails contrary to the written policy.

  7. DXer said

    It is Ed who misses the point and is not familiar with spoliation doctrine. He

    “It was NOT evidence. It was improperly prepared”

    Foundation for admissibility has nothing to do with spoliation doctrine. The samples were submitted in connection with the largest repository of Ames known to exist. There was a common law duty to preserve those samples. As for the consequence of destroying them, that would be a matter of the precedent in the particular jurisdiction that considered the decision. A common holding is an adverse inference will be made against the party destroying the evidence.

    Ed, what is your best evidence that Dr. Bruce Ivins submitted the slants you are discussing. Your citation should be to the record evidence rather than an assertion in the Summary unsupported by a cite to the record evidence.

    Were they submitted by Bruce Ivins? Or were they submitted by Former Colleague #2 who was thanked by the former Zawahiri associate for providing technical assistance.

    • DXer said

      Ed,

      Separately, but relatedly, who wrote this May 24, 2002 to Dr. Ezzell about preparing slants.

      The sender writes:

      “I’ve located the stocks that the fbi agents wanted me to provide them and have been wanting to get the slants and protocol from you for preparing slant cultures and their removal from the suite.

      Have you located these items yet? I would like to take care of this as soon as possible.

      Please answer.

      • DXer said

        For his part, in another context, Dr. Ivins once wrote:

        DXer said
        July 7, 2010 at 9:47 am
        By email dated January 30, 2006, Dr. Ivins says he would not have discarded any of the original material, since that was “closest thing to the cow, so to speak.”

  8. DXer said

    See generally the law review article by American University Professor Cynthia E. Jones addressed the issue in “The Right Remedy For The Wrongly Convicted: Judicial Sanctions For Destruction of DNA Evidence,” 77 Fordham L. Rev. 2893 (2008-2009)
    http://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?collection=journals&handle=hein.journals/flr77&div=93&id=&page=

    More generally, where are the missing investigative documents from 2001-2002? It was known in 2001 that it was the Ames strain and subpoenas issued immediately (in 2001) to both LSU and University of Michigan where the former Zawahiri associate supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins worked. Do the investigators who were new to the matter know the results of the work of earlier investigators? Regardless, why weren’t the documents from 2001/2002 produced?

    • DXer said

      Ed is correct. The USG’s official position in its summary is that the genetic evidence was intentionally destroyed — which raises a serious issue under spoliation of evidence doctrine. The sanctions would have to be addressed by a federal court under spoliation doctrine.

      • DXer said

        And if you doubt me on the facts, ask either the scientist who threw it out or the scientist who I characterize as the former Zawahiri associate.

        • DXer said

          Did you notice that the FBI provided only one peer reviewed article in the thousands of pages of production? In that article, the former Zawahiri associate thanks Former Colleague #1 and Former Colleague #2 for providing technical assistance and the FBI’s genetic expert for supplying the BL-3.

    • BugMaster said

      Ed, you have claimed repeatedly that Ivins wasn’t aware of the mutants present in RMR-1029.

      So why would he attempt to deceive with a “single colony pick”?

      And why wasn’t the attack material “Snow White”? Instead, it was TAN.

      • DXer said

        I’m beginning to think that for authorized USG experiments for detection or decontamination — or unauthorized — white powder was made using sucrose (see silicon and tin signature).

        And that the discards were stolen — the lower levels (tan and below that, multi-colored).

        And that if the USG experiment was something that no one wanted to disclose, then the USG had been hoisted on its own petard. The maker of the aerosol would not want to disclose it anyway because it would subject them to legal liability for not autoclaving the lower levels. They would be civilly responsible for allowing unauthorized access to the tan and multi-colored levels.

        I further speculate that the self-repelling property of the particles was caused by a corona plasma discharge or sonicator. Anonymous has always thought that a unipolar charge was imparted.

        Did DTRA or DARPA make aerosols using the 320 ml not accounted for?

      • BugMaster said

        “And that the discards were stolen — the lower levels (tan and below that, multi-colored).”

        Actually, I think Ed’s theory is closer to the truth here. It wasn’t the post challenge plates that were the source of the attack material, but rather:

        The post-challenge dilution tubes. They likewise would have been tossed into the biohazard bag.

        Advantage? Screw-top tubes, easy to slip into one’s pocket without notice. Unlike plates, containerized (I always screw the cap down tight before tossing a dilution tube, since I don’t want the liquid contents to leak into the bag and make a mess), and, if in fact proper technique is followed, the tubes would be labeled.

        As in 10 x -2 would be a 100X dilition, and contain all of the mutants.

        A post-challenge serial dilution plate at 10 x -8?

        May at the most contain one CFU of one of the single mutants.

        “I further speculate that the self-repelling property of the particles was caused by a corona plasma discharge or sonicator. Anonymous has always thought that a unipolar charge was imparted.”

        Yes, but that charge will not persist! Maybe for a few hours or so, but one can’t “charge something up”, so to say, and expect the charge to remain for extended periods of time.

        Cosmic rays play a role in neutralization (O.K. perhaps minor), any amount of humidity, and those wild electrons return to the mothership (they go to ground!)

  9. DXer said

    The print defect analysis reminds one of the FBI’s lead bullet analysis. No witnesses presented to the NAS on the print defect analysis even though it was central to the science used in the Amerithrax analysis. The analysis of the stamps narrrowed things from 50 states to 2 states whereas the genetics investigation narrowed things from 1,000 with access to Ames to up to 377 with access to the Ames with 4 morphs.

    Moreover, in its draft report, the National Academy of Sciences inexplicable failed to review the defects in the phosphor bar or the scientific reasonableness of the FBI’s failure to do so.

    The Amerithrax Summary states:

    “On the upper right-hand side of the front, to the right of the Federal Eagle indicia, the envelopes were imprinted with a vertical phosphorescent bar, used in mail processing, orientation, and recognition, referred to as the “phosphor bar.” The phosphor bar measured approximately ••• inch wide and one inch long and is positioned approximately c inch from the right-hand outer edge and ••• inch from the top edge of the envelope. The phosphor bar was not visible without an alternate light source.37

    It should be noted that exploitation of defects in the phosphor bar was not included in this analysis, but remained a future forensic possibility at the time of Dr. Ivins’s suicide. Since that time, given the results of the indicia defects analysis, it was determined that the analysis of the phosphor bar would not provide a more definitive result. ”

    Translation: Given that they had narrowed the sale of the stamp to Maryland and Virginia, there was no need to engage in forensic analysis that might show that the guy who committed suicide could be excluded by the phosphor analysis so long as the NAS could be steered into not considering the science done relating to the stamps.

  10. DXer said

    Wikileaks Amerithrax.

    The recently released “cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in “client states”; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.

    This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.”

    Now what if someone introduced Wikileaks to one of the Amerithrax paralegals like was done in the cigarette cases?

    Who would be fired? Who would be arrested? Whose career would be over? It’s always a good idea to get out there ahead of the documents with the truth. There is a safe haven for all truth-tellers — always will be.

    The FBI and CIA is always so excited about intercepting emails, having the FBI cut out of NSA intercepts in order to protect Ali Al-Timimi’s former boss, getting the NSL letters issued with a phone call and putting spike mikes in bedroom walls. But what if the world could read the emails sent on the day the investigators learned Dr. Ivins had committed suicide? What if some already have?

    A prosecutor’s communications are only as secure as that overtime secretary from the pool was loyal. And as for the nameless night shift of copyeditors at the contractor? Yikes. In the information age, the only safe path to follow is the truth and transparency.

    • Old Atlantic said

      The view of those in power, is that leaks and truth disclosure simply require a greater display of power and coercion to make us say what we can see we don’t see and what we know we don’t know.

      Or in the short version, Ivins treatment is not something you coverup, Ivins is an example to other federal employees.

      Fear of the monster US government is greatest inside the DOJ? Notice how few leaks come from DOJ? That is leaks that embarrass DOJ as opposed to smear someone.

      • Old Atlantic said

        US State Department employees have been ordered not to read Wikileaks. Presumably DOJ employees are allowed to read it but only for the purposes of prosecution not for the truth therein.

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