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

* Dr. Ivins’ email to one of the two undercover FBI agents who had befriended him on the cruise

Posted by DXer on December 12, 2010













23 Responses to “* Dr. Ivins’ email to one of the two undercover FBI agents who had befriended him on the cruise”

  1. DXer said

    Mark Kortepeter, in his new book INSIDE THE HOT ZONE, writes about the psychological pressure the FBI brought to bear on Ivins to break him down.

    “I did not know Bruce beyond a friendly nod in the hall, but my colleagues who knew him well strongly defended his innocence. Nevertheless, the FBI began to put the squeeze on Bruce the way they had Dr. Hatfill. Bruce believe he was under constant surveillance. Hank says, “Any time he would come out in the yard while he was out, and when he’d go back in, she’d go back in. And he noticed something in her jeans that could’ve been a radio or a gun, or something.” The Bacteriology Division personnel were a collegial group; frequently hanging out together after work for beers on the porch of the Community Activity Center (CAC) on base, which was just across the street and base fence from Bruce’s house. “There were times on nice days we were out back on that porch and you could see someone in that upper window (next door to Bruce’s house] watching us,” Hank told me.”

    Unlike Steven Hatfill, who came out swinging, Bruce began to unravel. The FBI put on more pressure. Bit by bit, as Bruce fell under more scrutiny, things snowballed. Colleague and division chief Pat Worsham said, “The FBI had been pressuring him [Bruce] more and more and it was obvious that they were, I think trying to break him.”

    “Bruce left town for a week on a cruise with his brother and nephew and was feeling a bit better. When he returned, he recounted his experience to some friends, and he mentioned that two attractive women on the cruise were hanging around him a lot. “I don’t know why they were paying so much attention to me,” Bruce said to Pat and others, but he seemed flattered.

    Hank piped in and burst his bubble. “Bruce, think about it. Those two were probably FBI agents.” Bruce later apparently looked up their names and cam back saying, “Oh my God, you guys were right.”


    I am not going to second-guess FBI’s use of stealth in these situations. Heck, one of my best pals hopefully has been paid well by the FBI or someone to do my graphics. (I have no idea and don’t care to press the issue). He abruptly moved to town upon Dr. Ivins’ suicide. Coincidentally, I met him at a barbecue the very day I questioned a few correspondents: Where are all the undercovers?

    The difficulty arises if the FBI used as evidence of guilt if he placed a radio transmitter on the gal’s lawn mower.

    People naturally don’t want to think they’ve been wasting their time and so develop some rigidity about their theory.

    In life, as FBI undercovers or contractors, it’s best just to gladly accept the free cruise and hope you win at BINGO without forcing the issue.

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

  2. DXer said

    When the FBI saw that Ivins was scheduling to go on a cruise with his brother, they jumped at the chance
    to send two agents undercover with him. (See August 10, 2007 email documenting one email exchange between
    Bruce and the Agent; and then Henry Heine’s discussion of how he learned that the two women from the cruise
    were agents from simply googling).

    One of the female agents corresponded with Ivins after their return, exchanging cat pictures.

    It was actually quite productive — producing hard evidence that Bruce liked kittens and would travel to Michigan.

    When a depressed man is alienated from his friends by the FBI and Command, only to find an
    offer of friendship to be a BIG LIE and an act of betrayal, is it at all surprising that he killed himself?

    It was the FBI’s withholding of documents from him that prevented him from shutting down their Ivins Theory.

    A more ethical approach would be to share the documents he was pleading for so that they could get on the same page
    and accurately reconstruct what he was doing in the lab in September and October 2001.

    The undercover FBI Agent writes to Bruce Ivins:

    “So, basically, my return trip was a comedy of errors, but all I can do is laugh about it.
    Got lost getting to the airport, was scrambling for change (tolls every where in Florida – none in Sweden), plane
    changes (mechanical problems that I wish they would not tell me), and of course all the other little
    things, lost luggage etc…. that make me look back and wish I was on the ship with you, laughing as we
    did almost every night!”

    Ivins responds:

    “Oh, my! I had a delayed flight, but that was all. Sorry about all of the problems. I hope you didn’t have
    to make a whole lot of flight connections. I had a non-stop from Orlando to Dulles Airport, then I took a
    wrong exit in Frederick and wound up going back west on Interstate 70. You’d think that I could at
    least find my way around where I live, but I have an awful, AWFUL sense of direction! I think I’ve only
    lost luggage once, when USAMRIID sent a coworker and me up to Lansing, Michigan to help the people
    who make the current human vaccine for anthrax. We were told about it Friday afternoon and had to run
    around like chickens without heads for the rest of the day. We left on Sunday and got in at night, didn’t
    have our luggage, were hungry, and just about every
    restaurant was closed at 10 pm.”

    It wasn’t for a lack of trying that she didn’t get Ivins to give her any dirt about bondage.

    The undercover agent wrote:

    “Other than that, I have lots of pictures I need to send to you from the cruise.
    I dont have that many of us, but I do have a funny one of me and one funny one of
    I need to share, —> we are tied up (like in the head lock/hand lock pirate thing) (you know
    where your head and hands are between
    wood and you are bending forward???) Do I make any sense???

    Ivins responds:

    “The stocks! I remember those from when I visited Williamsburg in Virginia.”

    She writes:

    ” I will send that one soon.
    Also I have one of all of us from breakfast that last day.
    Why didn’t we take more pictures???
    What was I thinking?”

    [Agent ______. You didn’t take more pictures because then it would have been even easier for Henry Heine to identify you as an FBI Agent just
    from some simple googling. I once walked my undercover graphic artist under a camera (at SU’s Bird Library) and cracked up as
    he kept his new baseball hat on and looked at the floor as he walked by the camera.]

    Ivins writes:

    “You’re making me sad, missing you and
    fun and good times on the ship and the islands!
    When I got home I immediately went to the store and bought a big bottle of Bahama Mamas”

    The FBI agent then gets down to business. She asks:

    “How is work?”

    Ivins responds:

    “Work has been a drag for about 10 years! The vaccine work went down the rain, and the company that was supposed to pick up on it (the vaccine) made a mess of it. The scientists here can’t talk to them about what they did wrong, because that would be a conflict of interest and a definite ethics violation, so I’m basically putting in time here until I retire. It’s a terrible attitude, and I sorry I have it, but I’m just so beaten down.

    The FBI Agent executes on the script provided her:

    “How often do you work?”

    Ivins responds: I work Monday through Friday. I used to come in a lot on weekends and in the evenings, but don’t anymore.”

    Ivins continues: “If 9/11 and the anthrax letters hadn’t happened, I think we would have been doing well in our vaccine research, but we can’t change sad history, and that’s that.”

    The FBI Agent proceeds with a laser-focused “Sad that your co-worker left?”

    You know Ivins was innocent because he was so gullible. In contrast, I knew my graphic artist was an undercover before I even went to the barbecue and found him smiling, flipping a hamburger. He was just too handsome and debonair for his own good. It simply is not natural in these parts. They had to import him from Maine, where he had been meeting with Meryl Nass; he moved here, abruptly, shortly after Ivins’ suicide.

    Ivins wrote: “I tend to get really, really close to people and then they disappear from my life and I am sad. I promise I am faithful friend and will always be loyal!!! I think you seem to be the same.”

    Oops. No. The FBI Agent was looking to find some narrative spin that would make Ivins look guilty, even though there was not a scintialla of evidence establishing his guilt. It was Hatfill all over again. But this time a fragile man was going to be very hurt by the betrayal of his new friend. Hatfill was tough enough — and aided by a crackerjack lawyer — that he wasn’t going to take the FBI’s guff. Ivins was just beat down over the course of many years.

    Ivins’ new fake friend even seems to hint that in small groups she would be willing to show a little leg.

    She writes:

    “I like people, but I’m uncomfortable frequently in crowds. (I thought the “sexiest legs” contest was fun, but I would have
    been SO BAD if I had to dance up to the “judges” and strut around!) Small groups of people are nice
    because then they can really get to know each other.”

    Sigh. #MeToo

    Then the undercover FBI Agent asks to be made an honorary Badger.

    “You can CERTAINLY be a badger! It was one of our division chiefs that gave me that name.. He came into the office one day in the 1990s and said, “I need to talk to King Badger! That was very funny, and he wanted to ask a question about the anthrax vaccine, but the name kind of stuck in our lab.” [Editor’s note: Project Badger involved a project that didn’t involve Ivins’ lab or RIID relating to dilution of the anthrax vaccine].

    Now this FBI Agent undercover lady is pulling out all the stops:

    “So what else? Tell me everything!”

    Man. I so wish I had her working on my case. Cat photos. A little leg. A direct line of probing questions.
    For the first year, before the undercover started doing the graphics for this blog, spun the most incredibly convoluted nonsense.
    He later would blame the ridiculous, convoluted theory on a case handler writing really lousy script. Relatedly or not, it’s clear that Decker knows jack shit about Al Qaeda’s anthrax program.

    It’s like some moronic agency employees somewhere didn’t know that I thought Al Qaeda was responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings.

    The undercover agent closes with “BIG FAT HUGS!!!! Stay in touch….”

    As I reread the fun email, I’m getting really pissed to see how much fun the undercover approach to Bruce was. If the FBI had any sense, they would have sent a scrabble player my way. Now as Mara explained in the mid-2000s to Bruce, she enjoys a good scrabble game, though she said it was irritating that her better half was better at scrabble. If Mara goes to the Ithaca scrabble tournament in March (see, I’ll meet her over the lasagna and will give Bruce a fair shake by getting people on the same page — by having the FBI produce the withheld documents.

    Whatever your theory of Amerithrax, the DOJ and FBI needs to comply with FOIA. It’s an essential aspect of abiding by the rule of law.

    • DXer said

      In the Amerithrax Summary, the DOJ reveals yet more emails — this time from March 2008 —
      that it has culled from production. The FBI had sewn the seeds of Ivins’ despair and sense of betrayal by the two undercover agents in 2007, and now Ivins was living with the consequences of his alienation from Patricia Fellows and Mara Linscott.
      Yet at the same time the FBI bases its theory on his upset and sensitivities, they refuse to provide the actual
      emails that they selectively quote in spinning theory.

      The Amerithrax Summary states:

      “In the two days preceding this apparent suicide attempt, Dr. Ivins sent e-mails to both
      Former Colleague #1 and another person whom he knew well, conveying disturbed messages
      indicative of the profound impact Former Colleague #1 had on his psyche. To this other person
      on March 17, 2008, he wrote:

      [Former Colleague #1 (Mara Linscott)] isn’t satisfied with winning. She isn’t
      satisfied until she makes somebody lose. I’ve seen her. I know.
      I’ve seen her play scrabble, boggle, soccer, and wiffle ball. She
      has to make somebody lose. . . . That’s why she’s proud of hurting
      me. I used to think of her as a confidante. Now I know what she
      and [Former Colleague #2 (Pat Fellows)] wrote back and forth. I have seen. I

      On March 18, 2008, he wrote to Former Colleague #1 directly:

      I’m sorry that you have abandoned me. You were the one person I
      knew I could bare my soul to and tell everything to, and now you
      have abandoned me. You have put me on your dark list. . . . . I
      lose my connections. I lose my years. I lose my health. I lose my
      ability to think. I lose my friends. What do I have left but

      This is how AUSA Lieber spins it — even though what was happening between
      a male supervisor and female subordinate at the US Attorney’s Office was far worse,
      and resulted in the supervisor’s dismissal. That attorney, who handed out assignments
      in the office, went on to practice construction law. While the female AUSA merely
      was reprimanded for visiting a jihadi in jail (after a deal had been cut). (That’s one
      reason for the secrecy Lambert mentions).

      Ivins, after shelling out $70,000 in legal fees, might have landed on his feet. He
      might have gone on to be a Walmart greeter in retirement as he feared. But if
      the FBI had not withheld exculpatory documents, he at least have been given
      a fair shake to prove his innocence. He killed himself because of the FBI’s campaign
      against him, with the betrayal by the two female undercovers
      having a brutal similarity to the betrayal that he felt when his former technicians were saying
      unkind things about him. Just because a guy is paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t saying
      mean things. And who wouldn’t end up saying bad things with all the pressure these folks
      were under as the result of the never-ending FBI investigation. Pat and Mara, after all,
      made the Ames anthrax that is missing. Pat wore a wire against Bruce at the coffee shop.

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

      So the stress they felt is understandable. And the fact that Leahy has angrily said that
      Amerithrax is not closed is also understandable.

      But the FBI’s theory that in September 2001 and early October 2001,
      Bruce grew and processed the anthrax used in the letters was
      never supported by the evidence.

      Whatever your theory of Amerithrax, who is going to give Bruce Ivins a fair shake by complying with FOIA?

  3. DXer said

    Attorney: FBI agents posed as Muslim women to entrap man

    Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press 2:08 p.m. EDT April 19, 2016

    Khalil Abu-Rayyan was in love.

    Text messages his attorney recently released show the 21-year-old Dearborn Heights man was thrilled to meet online a woman named Ghadda, whom he planned to marry.

    “Every time I close my eyes, I see you right by me,” he texted to her on Dec. 13. “Words can’t explain my love for you.”

    But the person Abu-Rayyan thought was a Pakistani-American Muslim woman who loved him actually was an undercover FBI agent.

    Soon, the person acting as a love interest cut off the relationship, leaving Abu-Rayyan distraught. The next month, another woman, identified as a 19-year-old Iraqi Sunni Muslim, interacted with Abu-Rayyan online, also claiming she loved him. During their discussions, they chatted about ISIS and Abu-Rayyan mentioned attacking a Detroit church.

    But that person, too, was an undercover FBI employee, said his attorney, Todd Shanker.

    Abu-Rayyan is not charged with any terrorism crime. In a federal complaint unsealed Feb. 4, he was charged with weapons and marijuana charges. Prosecutors say that Abu-Rayyan did not disclose, when asked, on a federal form he filled out to purchase a gun whether he uses illegal drugs. He smoked marijuana often, said prosecutors. …

    Shanker had said in February that an undercover FBI employee, Jannah, was posing a woman. On Friday, Shanker revealed that another woman, Ghadda, was in contact with Abu-Rayyan before his interaction with Jannah.

    “Vulnerable as Rayyan was, the government chose to orchestrate a reprehensible drama where the young man was uplifted to Cloud 9 — he was engaged to marry the first informant (‘Ghadda’), they discussed how many children they would have together, and planned a wedding ceremony — only to be utterly devastated with her breakup. The next step in the government’s plan was to exploit the defendant’s devastation and loss through a second informant (‘Jannah’) who then would try to instigate Rayyan to agree to an act of terrorism.”

    At one point, Abu-Rayyan talked about targeting a big Detroit church near where he worked at his father’s pizzeria on 7 Mile and Telegraph.

    The second FBI undercover employee posing as a woman asked Rayyan about his church plans, saying: Would you even kill women and children?

    Abu-Rayyan replied, according to Waterstreet: “I would have killed every one last of them … women and children. … I would have shown no mercy … It would have been a bloodbath.””

    Shanker has said that Abu-Rayyan, the oldest of six brothers and sisters, worked 70 hours a week at his father’s pizza place.

    In his court filing Friday, Shanker said the FBI was very manipulating of Abu-Rayyan, taking advantage of his emotional state.

    The family of Abu-Rayyan and some advocates have expressed concern about the prosecution of him, saying it’s the latest example of overreach by prosecutors in the war on terrorism with the use of informants.


    Maybe there ought to be rules against this sort of thing — maybe romantic love should be off-limits. (I don’t know; this blog tries to avoid issues of policy outside of narrow limits). Years ago I traveled half way across the world to ask a CIA analyst to marry me ; so I mean, it’s not like proposals of marriage, where sincere, don’t sometimes have a place. (Early in the week I was walking up the street and the American bank ahead of me was blown up. So we were distracted and I failed to close the deal.)

    At the very least, the FBI should send back Cindy to my local scrabble club. She was wonderful. Would I, in a moment of passion — and after drawing particularly good letter tiles — talk about crushing my opponents like bugs on a hydroponically-grown leaf of lettuce? Sure. But that’s only because I was promoting hydroponics to feed the world’s hunger.

    Bruce Ivins likely was emotionally crushed when he learned the two wonderful women he met on the cruise with his brother were FBI. He had shared pictures of cute kittens — and correspondence with her then helped shaped the narrative of the FBI’s “Ivins Theory.” (although the FBI never disclosed this). A hammer finds a nail. The correspondence only evidences that he responded to kindnesses and offers of friendship.

    It is only human nature for FBI to mistake successful trickery as success in connecting the dots in a difficult mystery. Everyone understandably wants to proclaim “mission accomplished” — and FBI agents and prosecutors are not in control of what letters they draw from the bag.

    In fact, undercovers and informants often don’t even know the big picture or have access to the relevant information.

    They could learn more from reconstruction of events through contemporary documentary evidence.

    Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri: The Infiltation of US BIodefense

  4. DXer said

    Marilyn writes:

    “Dr. Ezzell empathized with the young USAMRIID scientists who, at the beginning of their careers, found themselves immersed in a pressure cooker, trying to meet job demands and still find time for spouses and children. “I thought people would be right on our doorsteps, patting our backs. But we’ve been put in a position where we’ve been accused of not maintaining our cultures in a secured manner, and yet we had some of the best security in the country!” he said.

    “You’ve worked so hard, and what have you gotten out of this? You get accused, and it’s really disheartening. We’re scientists. We know there’s a certain amount of necessity for all of this, but at the same time we’re scientists — very dedicated, very loyal, very patriotic. And as hard as we’ve worked, to now be subjected to these kinds of observations is demeaning.”

    “The anthrax investigation took a steep toll on USAMRIID’s labs, causing soured home lives, stress-related illnesses, early retirements.
    Once, during the chaos of the spring, Ezzell had become so obviously worn down by weeks without a break that his boss ordered to take a few days off. Go home, eat something besides junk food, get some exercise. To enforce the instruction, he stripped Ezzell of his security badget, without which he couldn’t enter USAMRIID’s building.”

    Now this is the context of JE not telling Marilyn that he had made dried powdered anthrax that was better — more pure — than the Daschle product…at the request of DARPA.

    At the end of the day, the leadership of Amerithrax science chose not to make these disclosures. Indeed. When a former DARPA scientist took to the internet to argue that the behavior of the particles suggested that a unipolar charge had been added by a corona plasma discharge, the FBI continued to refuse to disclose the basic data about silicon and continued to conceal that a more pure powder had been made by its own expert.

    Once the genetics pointed to Flask 1029 as genetically identical, the evidence pointed more to the FBI’s own anthrax expert than it did to Bruce Ivins because there is no evidence Ivins had ever made the dried form of anthrax. Yet no one who has heard JE would suggest he was guilty. Similarly, the people who know Bruce Ivins are equally convinced of his innocence. (Perhaps the only two scientists who seem not to share the view, Former Colleague #1 (Mara Linscott) and Former Colleague #2 (Patricia Fellows) were thanked by the DARPA-funded former Zawahiri associate for providing technical assistance).

    If the FBI had not concealed this issue, then maybe the investigation could have proceeded to meaningfully and timely pursue the leads that needed to be pursued regarding the infiltration of DARPA.

    If there had been candor by the FBI, perhaps Anwar Awlaki would not have been allowed to leave the country in 2002 when he visited Al-Timimi to discuss recruiting young men to jihad.

    If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we are bound to repeat them. But given Zawahiri’s and Awlaki’s commitment to destroy Washington, D.C. in a mass attack, it would behoove the FBI scientists and investigators to engage in analysis that squares better with the documentary evidence.

  5. DXer said

    Old Atlantic brings up the subject of the log. The name of the former Zawahiri associate was spelled wrong on the BL-3 lab log. But that did not excuse the 16 pages not being forwarded until February 2005.

    In her book, Marilyn writes in describing the June 2001 annual anthrax gathering:

    “In the world of Ezzell and other anthrax specialists, the terror threat had real-life implications. For decades, scientists in the field had commonly swapped sensitive information, even shipping anthrax samples to colleagues for resesarch. Some members of the tight-knit scientific community thought little of traveling to meetings with vials of B. anthracis samples to share with trusted colleagues as a professional courtesy.”

    Zawahiri had a scientist attending the two prior ones. I have uploaded his correspondence given to me by DIA in which Rauf Ahmad announces to Zawahiri that he had achieved the targets. The lab with the thousands of pathogens and BL-3 lab has not been identified. If you don’t know what lab Rauf Ahmad visited, then can you really presume to know much about Amerithrax?

    Marilyn writes:

    “Ezzell spent time with Special Agent David Wilson at FBI headquarters to learn how to develop a USAMRIID Special Pathogens Laboratory that could respond to the need.”

    “In many regards, Ezzell was at the top of his game: his reputation was firmly established, his team’s research was paving new ground. Somehow, he had managed to blend the excitement of scientific discovery with the drudgery of sorting through the sample backlog then clogging USARMIID’s labs.

    But in all of his years of experience, testing phony anthrax samples that turned out to be talcum powder, Ezzell had yet to see B.anthracis in its most deadly and scientifically exciting form, the highly dispersible, free-floating weaponized powder produced by Fort Detrick’s bioweaponeers before Nixon pulled the plug on germ warfare. Only a few living souls could claim that experience.”

    At the November 29, 2010, John explained that Marilyn misunderstood or that he hadn’t made himself clear. What he meant to emphasize that due to the wind currents under the hood, maybe the product mailed to Daschle was not fully weaponized. And to be precise, he made a powder using Ames supplied by Bruce Ivins’ Flask 1029 to make a fine powder that was better than — more pure — than the Daschle product.

    None of the FBI officials and scientists saw fit to set the record straight and so the investigators in the compartmentalized investigation perhaps never had reason to pursue the lead and trace its implications. The documentary evidence suggests that they first obtained the 16 pages concerning the visit by the former Zawahiri associate to Ivins’ lab in February 2005. Those documents should have been obtained in November 2001, not February 2005. The name being spelled wrong on the log should not have mattered.

    • DXer said

      Marilyn, an experienced investigative reporter, writes:

      “John Ezzell stood by the guarded side entrance to USAMRIID waiting for the FBI to arrive with the evidence, as he had done so many times before during anthrax scares. Ezzell and his team knew that with this package, coming straight from Capitol Hill, the eys of the world focus on this Special Pathogens Samples Test Laboratory. They did not consider its danger until later, when Ezzell opened the envelope to confront what he could describe as “the face of Satan.” Out burst a spore powder so pure that it evaporated in midair.”

      John now explains (see videotape) that the fine powder he made using the “murder weapon” (Ames from Flask 1029) was better — more pure — than the anthrax mailed to Daschle. He thinks now that the Daschle material was not “fully weaponized” – and notes that it were air currents under the hood.

      Now if the FBI had disclosed this 10 years ago perhaps a decade of confusion might have been avoided. Focus might have been drawn to the fine powder being used by DARPA researchers and that the DARPA Center for Biodefense had been infiltrated by a scientist coordinating with the 911 imam and Bin Laden’s sheik.

      Question: If John was under a gag order, then how can he be making these incorrect statements to Marilyn? The gag order only came later?

      Why didn’t the FBI’s anthrax expert tell the world that he made a more pure fine powder using Ames supplied by Bruce Ivins’ Flask 1029?

      Failing to do that prevented important potential leads from being pursued — as illustrated by the FBI’s apparent failure to obtain until February 2005 the 16 pages regarding the visit to Bruce Ivins’ lab by the DARPA-funded former Zawahiri associate.

      • DXer said

        Marilyn writes:

        “The FBI called Ezzell on October 15 to alert him that evidence would be brought from the Daschle crime scene straight to USAMRIID for testing. Ezzell’s team knew that the stakes for quick and accurate analysis would be exceedingly high. Since the lab had been designed to process only several dozen samples a month, the lab staff had been stretched to the breaking point. It had grown from eight employees to eighty, borrowed from other USAMRIID divisions and sister agencies to handle up to seven hundred samples a day.”

        Was the virulent Ames from Flask 1029 still stored at the time in JE’s unlocked refrigerator there when it was testing central for the FBI? One 302 interview indicates that he was surprised to see Ames kept there but John tells me that there was nothing surprising about it being kept there.

        But if it was kept there, what is the risk of cross-contamination? Dr. Ivins thought it was an “incredible coverup” to not let him test the Diagnostic Services Division.

  6. DXer said

    The villain was a guy named Ayman Zawahiri. As Professor Intriligator, anthrax was his baby. He and his sister Heba were understanbly very upset at the rendition of their brother Mohammad and Ayman planned to retaliate for his rendition and mistreatment — as well as the rendition of others, to include Blind Sheik Abdel-Rahman and Bin Laden’s sheik al-Hawali, who mentored Ali-Al-Timimi. Numerous EIJ leaders had been rendered — up to 70 before 9/11. Doctors, lawyers, engineers from Cairo in late 1970s and early 1980s. If you were from those Cairo schools at the time, you knew some of those rendered personally. If you were a reasonable person, you would be concerned when you heard allegations of mistreatment by the Sadat and then Mubarak regime. One of those taught by Heba was supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins. He did testing of his decontamination agent, to include in BL-3 labs, at LSU, Dugway, Johns-Hopkins, USAMRIID and Edgewood. He thanked Former Colleague #1 and Former Colleague #2 for providing technical assistance but they won’t talk to you.

    Now eventually another villain entered the picture, Anwar Awlaki. He had been travelling under the radar, even though he was given the title “911 imam.” Awlaki was coordinating with fellow Falls Church imam Ali Al-Timimi, whose prosecution went dark and wrapped in highly classified briefing. The White House sought to deal with Al-Timimi, who was Andrew Card’s former assistant, through warrantless NSA wiretaps and exclude DOJ from what was being learned.

    Reporting was thrown off by leaks about barking dogs by the father of Al-Timimi’s pro bono lawyer, Mr. Seikaly, who led the Amerithrax prosecution.

    Now with Agent Montooth not appreciating that the matching strain was also stored in Building 1412, the Task Force continued to bark up the wrong tree. The FBI does not have an easy job. But it is never too late to recognize that the narrative being told (in the Wash Po January 2009 article does not square with the facts). Once the FBI gets its facts straight — such as the fact that the photocopier machines exclude use of the machines to copy the letters — and once NAS eliminates the effect of the “taint” on the evidence due to conflicts of interest, the Amerithrax investigation could be reopened and maybe someday they’ll be handed a break.

    Marilyn Thompson’s ‘The Killer Strain’ — homicidal anthrax
    [FINAL Edition]

    The Sun – Baltimore, Md.
    Author: Scott Shane
    Date: Mar 9, 2003
    Start Page: 12.F
    Section: ARTS & SOCIETY
    Text Word Count: 911

    Abstract (Document Summary)

    If The Killer Strain feels incomplete, that is not the fault of [Marilyn W. Thompson], an editor at The Washington Post who has supervised some anthrax coverage. She can’t answer the most important questions about the attacks: Who mounted them? Was it a renegade American scientist, as the FBI seems to believe, or might it have been Iraq or al-Qaida, as some conservative analysts still insist? What equipment and expertise was required to make this spore powder so fine-grained that it spread like smoke? And what was the motive? Only when the FBI produces convincing answers to these questions will it be possible to draw more lasting conclusions about the significance of the attack.

    Thompson offers a largely sympathetic account of the bureaucrats and scientists who suddenly found themselves facing a microscopic enemy with which they had little experience. While she depicts their errors in judgment under fire, she suggests that the only real villain is the anthrax mailer.

    Consider John Ezzell, one of the Army’s top anthrax experts at Fort Detrick and perhaps the leading character in her narrative. His work was not perfect; Thompson describes his horror as he notices that the bleach he’s used to decontaminate his workbench has soaked the edge of one of the anthrax letters, conceivably destroying critical evidence.

  7. DXer said

    Old Atlantic would like to think of Amerithrax in broad political terms. That is not helpful. A whodunnit is based in precise details ending with someone going to a mailbox. If a broad strategy regarding terrorism were relevant, it might be relevant that Richard Holbrooke’s DC venture firm Perseus invested $50 million in the small company co-founded by the former Zawahiri associate. But that investment came long after 2001 and would only, at best, explain why it was third rail no one could touch.

    The fallacious reasoning of the FBI, for example, is revealed by Agent Montooth’s statements in January 2009 when he evidences his confusion — and suggests the genetically matching Ames was only in Building 1425 rather than Building 1412.

    Trail of Odd Anthrax Cells Led FBI to Army Scientist

    By Joby Warrick
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, October 27, 2008

    “Investigators say more evidence will be revealed in the coming weeks, some of it in peer-reviewed scientific journals …”

    Those articles were not published. Some were rejected and it had been hoped to be able to publish them simultaneously in the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

    Bureau officials decided to look again. Ivins, they found, had turned in two samples from his lab. The first [submitted in February 2002] was rejected because Ivins had not followed the FBI’s detailed instructions and had used the wrong type of test tube.

    Instead of Dr. Bannan’s spin, consider what the documents show the protocol being submitted on May 24, 2002, after Ivins’ senior lab assistant had to repeatedly ask for the guidance and the right vials:

    “At a news conference in August, bureau officials estimated that as many as 100 people potentially had access to the biocontainment lab where Ivins kept his collections.”

    The FBI is ignoring an additional 250 who had access to the genetically matching Ames (from Flask 1029) stored in Building 1412 in the refrigerator of its own FBI anthrax expert. How can agent Montooth be still using Taylor’s mistaken figure of 100 instead of the up to 377 when he was the fellow in charge of eliminating access in Building 1412? Why are the FBI scientists glossing over up to 250 who had access?

    “For one thing, no one besides Ivins seems to have known where they were kept.”

    Bwahaha! Numerous 302 interview statements in the record shows this to be false. In fact, it is specifically pointed out by someone that he was surprised to see the anthrax in the FBI anthrax expert’s unlocked refrigerator. Given it was regularly used in Building 1412 and leftovers left for weeks for autoclaving, everyone would have known where to find the anthrax. All you needed to do was to go to any of the garbage bags containing the refuse — a very tiny amount that then can be regrown.

    The article continues:

    “The only solace, he said, came on the day the Amerithrax team sat down with family members of the victims of the attacks. In an FBI conference room, Montooth laid out the still-secret details of the seven-year investigation.

    “They thanked us,” Montooth said, recalling the families’ reaction. “They said, ‘We believe you got the right guy.’ ”

    Agent Montooth, there were flat-out, central mistakes in your narrative. Your story bears little resemblance to the facts. You were the one in charge of ruling out access in Building 1412. Your own statements show that you just totally overlooked access in Building 1412, where, for example, it was stored by the FBI’s own anthrax scientist.

    • Old Atlantic said

      “Old Atlantic would like to think of Amerithrax in broad political terms. That is not helpful. ”

      Didn’t someone say something about taking the log out of your own eye first.

      • Old Atlantic said

        And it is helpful and it is what US government has done the whole time. Its their motive for how they are interacting with the NAS. Its their motive for hysterical responses to any of their employees who exposes their lack of any inner plan or rationality.

  8. DXer said

    Early in the Amerithax investigation, once it became known that the strain was Ames, were there any waivers obtained relating to conflict of interest of scientists working on Amerithrax for scientists who had worked with the Ames strain of anthrax? (Moreover, given an avirulent strain could be rendered virulent by insertion of the missing plasmid(s), were waivers obtained for those working with avirulent Ames also?) The GAO should obtain all such waivers and consider whether conflict of interest standards were satisfied.

    For example, the lab of FBI’s anthrax expert who had made a dried powder of Ames for aerosol experiments was involved in both sample collection and in choosing the morphs that are now urged as so important in resolution of Amerithrax. Were waivers obtained?

    Similarly, one of the FBI lead genetics expert (KS) had virulent Ames in the LSU repository. Was a waiver obtained? The lead science person for the FBI was the collection scientist in the bacteriology division at ATCC, which sponsored the program of “anthrax weapons suspect” Ali Al-Timimi and gave him unfettered access to the largest microbiological repository in the world. Was a waiver obtained?

    Early on, BHR many months before the rest of the country, recognized that about 16 labs had Ames. So by the time of her mid-December 2001 compilation of the evidence, the need for waivers from the scientists likely had become clear as to those 16 or so labs.

    Given a former Zawahiri associate had been supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins, why were those first documents only obtained — judging from the record — in February 2005?

    Given the scientist’s lifelong friend and medical schoolmate recruited by Ayman Zawahiri (see INSIDE JIHAD, May 2008) has long cooperated with intelligence agencies, doesn’t Amerithrax represent the greatest intelligence failure in the history of the United States?

    Was FBI Director Mueller’s compartmentalization of the squads, over the objection of lead Amerithrax investigator Lambert, part of the problem or part of the solution?

    OF THE
    Final Regulation Issued by
    the U.S. Office of Government Ethics
    Codified in 5 C.F.R. Part 2635

    § 2635.402 Disqualifying financial interests.
    (a) Statutory prohibition. An employee is prohibited by criminal statute, 18 U.S.C. 208(a), from participating personally and substantially in an official capacity in any particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he or any person whose interests are imputed to him under this statute has a financial interest, if the particular matter will have a direct and predictable effect on that interest.

    (b) Definitions. For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:
    (1) Direct and predictable effect.
    (i) A particular matter will have a direct effect on a financial interest if there is a close causal link between any decision or action to be taken in the matter and any expected effect of the matter on the financial interest. An effect may be direct even though it does not occur immediately. A particular matter will not have a direct effect on a financial interest, however, if the chain of causation is attenuated or is contingent upon the occurrence of events that are speculative or that are independent of, and unrelated to, the matter. A particular matter that has an effect on a financial interest only as a consequence of its effects on the OGE 06/09 31
    general economy does not have a direct effect within the meaning of this subpart.
    (ii) A particular matter will have a predictable effect if there is a real, as opposed to a speculative possibility that the matter will affect the financial interest. It is not necessary, however, that the magnitude of the gain or loss be known, and the dollar amount of the gain or loss is immaterial

    Note: If a particular matter involves a specific party or parties, generally the matter will at most only have a direct and predictable effect, for purposes of this subpart, on a financial interest of the employee in or with a party, such as the employee’s interest by virtue of owning stock. There may, however, be some situations in which, under the above standards, a particular matter will have a direct and predictable effect on an employee’s financial interests in or with a nonparty. For example, if a party is a corporation, a particular matter may also have a direct and predictable effect on an employee’s financial interests through ownership of stock in an affiliate, parent, or subsidiary of that party. Similarly, the disposition of a protest against the award of a contract to a particular company may also have a direct and predictable effect on an employee’s financial interest in another company listed as a subcontractor in the proposal of one of the competing offerors.

    Example 1: An employee of the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health has just been asked to serve on the technical evaluation panel to review proposals for a new library computer search system. DEF Computer Corporation, a closely held company in which he and his wife own a majority of the stock, has submitted a proposal. Because award of the systems contract to DEF or to any other offeror will have a direct and predictable effect on both his and his wife’s financial interests, the employee cannot participate on the technical evaluation team unless his disqualification has been waived.


    (4) Personal and substantial. To participate personally means to participate directly. It includes the direct and active supervision of the participation of a subordinate in the matter. To participate substantially means that the employee’s involvement is of significance to the matter. Participation may be substantial even though it is not determinative of the outcome of a particular matter. However, it requires more than official responsibility, knowledge, perfunctory involvement, or involvement on an administrative or peripheral issue. A finding of substantiality should be based not only on the effort devoted to a matter, but also on the importance of the effort. While a series of peripheral involvements may be insubstantial, the single act of approving or participating in a critical step may be substantial. Personal and substantial participation may occur when, for example, an employee participates through decision, approval, disapproval, recommendation, investigation or the rendering of advice in a particular matter.

    (c) Disqualification. Unless the employee is authorized to participate in the particular matter by virtue of a waiver or exemption described in paragraph (d) of this section or because the interest has been divested in accordance with paragraph (e) of this section, an employee shall disqualify himself from participating in a particular matter in which, to his knowledge, he or a person whose interests are imputed to him has a financial interest, if the particular matter will have a direct and predictable effect on that interest. Disqualification is accomplished by not participating in the particular matter.
    (1) Notification. An employee who becomes aware of the need to disqualify himself from participation in a particular matter to which he has been assigned should notify the person responsible for his assignment. An employee who is responsible for his own assignment should take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that he does not participate in the matter from which he is disqualified. Appropriate oral or written notification of the employee’s disqualification may be made to coworkers by the employee or a supervisor to ensure that the employee is not involved in a matter from which he is disqualified.

    (d) Waiver of or exemptions from disqualification. An employee who would otherwise be disqualified by 18 U.S.C. 208(a) may be permitted to participate in a particular matter where the otherwise disqualifying financial interest is the subject of a regulatory exemption or individual waiver described in this paragraph, or results from certain Indian birthrights as described in 18 U.S.C. 208(b)(4).
    (1) Regulatory exemptions. Under 18 U.S.C. 208(b)(2), regulatory exemptions of general applicability have been issued by the Office of Government Ethics, based on its determination that particular interests are too remote or too inconsequential to affect the integrity of the services of employees to whom those exemptions apply. See the regulations in subpart B of part 2640 of this chapter, which supersede any preexisting agency regulatory exemptions.
    (2) Individual waivers. An individual waiver enabling the employee to participate in one or more particular matters may be issued under 18 U.S.C. 208(b)(1) if, in advance of the employee’s participation:
    (i) The employee:
    (A) Advises the Government official responsible for the employee’s appointment (or other Government official to whom authority to issue such a waiver for the employee has been delegated) about the nature and circumstances of the particular matter or matters; and

    (B) Makes full disclosure to such official of the nature and extent of the disqualifying financial interest; and
    (ii) Such official determines, in writing, that the employee’s financial interest in the particular matter or matters is not so substantial as to be deemed likely to affect the integrity of the services which the Government may expect from such employee. See also subpart C of part 2640 of this chapter, for additional guidance.

    • DXer said

      Under its contract with the FBI, the NAS Committee on Science, Technology, and Law is to “conduct an independent review of the scientific approaches used during the investigation of the 2001 Bacillus anthracis (B. anthracis) mailings. An ad hoc committee with relevant expertise will evaluate the scientific foundation for the specific techniques used by the FBI to determine whether these techniques met appropriate standards for scientific reliability and for use in forensic validation and whether the FBI reached appropriate scientific conclusions from its use of these techniques.”

      “In instances where novel scientific methods were developed for purposes of the FBI investigation itself,” the NAS said Tuesday, “the committee will pay particular attention to whether these methods were appropriately validated,” and that “the committee will review and assess scientific evidence (studies, results, analyses, reports) considered in connection with the 2001 Bacillus anthracis mailings.”

      “In assessing this body of information,” the NAS said the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law “will limit its inquiry to the scientific approaches, methodologies, and analytical techniques used during the investigation of the 2001 B. anthracis mailings.”

      Yet, the areas of FBI scientific evidence being studied by NAS’s Committee on Science, Technology, and Law include, but may not be limited to:

      1. Genetic studies that led to the identification of potential sources of B. anthracis recovered from the letters;

      Question: Was the evidence “tainted” by reason of having the samples collected by someone who had made a dried Ames aerosol out of the “murder weapon” and kept unused virulent Ames from Flask 1029 in his unlocked refrigerator?

      2. Analyses of four genetic mutations that were found in evidence and that are unique to a subset of Ames strain cultures collected during the investigation;

      Question: Was the evidence “tainted” by reason of having the morphs chosed by someone who had participated in the DARPA research for which a dried Ames aerosol out of the “murder weapon” and kept unused virulent Ames from Flask 1029 in his unlocked refrigerator?

      3. The role that cross contamination might have played in the evidence picture.

      Question: Was the evidence “tainted” by reason of having the samples collected by the lab that conducted the DARPA research for which a dried Ames aerosol out of the “murder weapon” and kept unused virulent Ames from Flask 1029 in his unlocked refrigerator? In an email, Dr. Ivins vented that he thought it was an “incredible coverup” that he was not permitted to swab the Diagnostic Services Division (containing JE’s lab) at the same time as he swabbed his lab. (Then the contamination in his lab was relied upon as evidence against him).

      Did the waiver of the conflict of interest by the members of JE’s lab disclose all the material facts?

      NAS said the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law “will necessarily consider the facts and data surrounding the investigation of the 2001 Bacillus anthracis mailings, the reliability of the principles and methods used by the FBI, and whether the principles and methods were applied appropriately to the facts.”

      To make these sorts of assessment, you have to know the facts. For example, if the daughter of the head of Amerithrax prosecution represented Ali Al-Timimi pro bono (for free), it is a fact worth knowing given that his defense counsel confirms he was an “anthrax weapons suspect.”

      By knowing the facts, one can consider whether a waiver of a conflict was needed, whether one was provided, and whether it made upon an adequate disclosure of facts. (Sometimes at the time a waiver is sought and obtained, all the facts are not known).

      The written waivers are all subject to a FOIA request.

      Conflicts of interest typically arise without any fault on the party involved — it’s just something that requires recusal and bears on whether the evidence is “tainted.”

  9. ikesolem said

    Well looks like the FBI has had a gut check – courtesy of BioPrepWatch:

    preceded by this:

    “FBI seeks to delay anthrax review
    by Bryan Cohen on December 10, 2010

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation has asked the National Academy of Sciences to delay its release of a review of the seven year investigation into the anthrax mail attacks in 2001 that killed five people.

    New Jersey Democratic Representative Rush Holt believes that the FBI “may be seeking to try to steer or otherwise pressure the NAS panel to reach a conclusion desired by the bureau,” the Fresno Bee reports.

    The FBI requested the scientific review in 2008 in order to reduce controversy over its previous inquiry that found a disgruntled government scientist to be behind the anthrax attacks.

    “This week I was informed by the NAS that the FBI would be releasing an additional 500 pages of previously undisclosed investigative material from the Amerithrax investigation to the NAS,” Holt, a scientist and chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, said, according to the Fresno Bee. “(This) document dump…is intended to contest and challenge the independent NAS panel’s draft findings. If these new documents were relevant to the NAS’ review, why were they previously undisclosed and withheld?”

    The inquiry that the FBI had previously made on the anthrax case was extremely controversial because it concluded that Army researcher Bruce Ivins mailed the letters based on circumstantial evidence. Ivins later committed suicide in 2008. No criminal charges were filed.

    Holt, referencing Army scientist Steven Hatfill, who had been accused and later acquitted of the anthrax crimes, called the FBI request “disturbing” and said that they had “consistently botched and bungled this case from the beginning,” according to the Fresno Bee.

    Well, well, well – looks like they REALLY have something to hide, now, doesn’t it? How many more lies will they try to tell before they admit that their line has been pure bull since, perhaps, the end of Dec 2001? The FBI exposed as the coverup agency for the bioterrorists – ouch, what will Mueller say to Congress now? Richard Lambert won’t return my calls, either… I wonder why not?

    Further details forthcoming… but it looks like the FBI case is unraveling faster than they can cover it up, doesn’t it? The only question now is this: who are they working overtime to protect?

    Criminals on high… with nowhere left to run. What will they try next?

    • DXer said

      There is no basis whatsoever that I know of (and I’ve read all the documents and press in the case) to suggest criminal conduct or even “cover up” on the part of the FBI. If you are in a compartmentalized squad only considering Ivins, for example, that’s all you know.

      There is basis, however, to suggest that the August press conference by US Attorney Taylor contained central misstatements of fact (e.g., genetics, 1412, vs. 1425, Federal Eagle Stamp). The errors are proven by the documentary evidence produced (the 302s).

      Moreover, there is basis to suggest the science briefing got the facts and implications of the lost or discarded sample wrong. Relatedly, to make a big deal out of a genetics inquiry that narrowed things from 1000 nationwide to up to 377 (at just USAMRIID alone) seriously misconceives the issues that need to be considered. For example, for the NAS to address whether the evidence is “tainted” without addressing the adequacy of the waivers of conflict of interest is to leave their work undone.

      And, finally, there is a continuing concern of the adequacy of any waiver of conflict of interest given that key facts were not known at the time of the waivers.

      • Old Atlantic said

        Yes there is evidence of coverup. The US does not have a coherent strategy from the top down. Is it at war? With whom and what? Terrorism?

        The Pentagon Papers exposed that in Vietnam, there was no there there to our being there. We had no plan. There was no assessment of the situation with a plan and a goal that took us from the situation to the goal.

        Instead, they just made up whatever lie sounded good each day. That is what the Pentagon Papers exposed. They were covering up that they had no strategy to fight the “war” or was it a “police action” or whatever it was.

        The war on terror is the same lack of there there. War on Terror is a hole in the mind.

        The DOJ/FBI show such a lack of an inner plan by their actions from the 1993 World Trade Center attack to now. That applies to the whole government.

        DOJ/FBI and the government are trying to cover up that they have no real plan. This is exactly the same as what the Pentagon Papers exposed.

        The 10 year War on Terrorism or is it 17 years or is it from 1979 shows the same ongoing myopic lie of the day. The 10 year war on bioterrorism shows the same inner emptiness. This is what we see revealed by the kick the can activity on the anthrax case.

        This is being covered up. Just as with the Pentagon Papers they are hysterical to cover up that they don’t know what they are doing, are making it up each day, and what they do makes no sense. You have documented that over and over.

  10. BugMaster said

    Note that Ivins was especially depressed about the failure of Vaxgen / rpa-102.

    And because of “conflict of interest” he and his coworkers couldn’t talk about it or try to help??!

  11. DXer said

    There once was an Ice Princess.

    A minion working for dark forces had stolen the keys to the kingdom.

    She went to confront him and get the keys and make sure all kingdoms everywhere were safe.

    But the dark forces had gained control and sent her to her room.

    What’s a Fairy Godmother to do?

    • Old Atlantic said

      Where have all the good flasks gone
      And where comes this silicon?
      Where’s the street-wise Lakules
      To fight the rising odds?
      Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery seed?
      Late at night i toss and i turn and i dream of what I need, Vahid

      I need a hero
      I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the NAS
      He’s gotta spore strong
      And he’s gotta brew fast
      And he’s gotta spore fresh from the fight
      I need a hero
      I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light
      He’s gotta brew sure
      And it’s gotta brew soon
      And he’s gotta brew larger than life(larger than life)

      • DXer said

        Would it change much — in terms of the whodunnit — if the Ames was in a soil suspension?

        And a corona plasma discharge had been applied after being inserted in the envelope?

        Did Bruce Ivins have access to a corona plasma discharge?

        Was Ames sometimes kept in a soil suspension at USAMRIID?

        • DXer said

          For example, this research involving Ames involved two soil suspensions from fine particulates of a moist dark brown to black soil (soil 1) and a dry light yellowish sandy soil (soil 2), taken from two different locations in the vicinity of Aberdeen Proving Ground. JE provided the irradiated Ames.

          Immunomagnetic-Electrochemiluminescent Detection of Bacillus …
          by JG Bruno – 1996 – Cited by 34 – Related articles
          Ames. Vollum 1B in buffer to. Ames. Sterne. Vollum 1B in soil suspension. A repeat of this experiment (results not shown) verified that the strains …

          Did they ever do additional studies relating to detection of anthrax in soil?

  12. DXer said

    The FBI also has used undercovers — even warrantless NSA wiretaps — on the targets discussed in this slide presentation.

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