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

* Dugway Proving Ground … a major U.S. Army resource for bio-defense research and testing … how has Dugway’s budget been impacted by the 2001 anthrax attacks?

Posted by DXer on December 30, 2010

the sun sets at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah

******

see previous posts

* who benefited from the 2001 anthrax attacks? … $50 billion to the biodefense industry … > $6 billion for biodefense research and facilities

* who benefitted from the FBI failure to solve the 2001 anthrax mailings case? … first to benefit … the Bush/Cheney plan to invade Iraq

******

from the Dugway Proving Ground web site …

http://www.dugway.army.mil/index.php/index/content/id/20

Dugway Proving Ground covers 798,214 acres: an area approximately the size of Rhode Island. It is the Army’s largest land mass facility, and thus is an ideal environment to be the Defense Department’s leader in chemical and biological defensive testing, environmental characterization, and remediation technology testing. Such tests evaluate the reliability and survivability of all types of military equipment in a chemical or biological environment.

Life Sciences Division  – Mission

  • To design, perform, and report results of biological defense testing in support of the West Desert Test Center (WDTC) mission
  • To safely test our warfighters future equipment to the highest standards within cost and schedule.
  • Testing is performed in the field with biosimulant aerosol challenge materials.
  • In Bio-Safety Level II (BSL2) and Bio-Safety Level III (BSL3) laboratories, respectively, biological simulants and select agents are aerosolized to test detection, decontamination and protection systems.
  • Additionally, the division provides materials and a staff of scientists as expert support for testing at Dugway Proving Ground (DPG), as well as biological defense worldwide.

Aerosol Technology Branch – Functions

  • Acts as the aerosol center of expertise for Dugway Test Activity, maintaining expertise in the areas of aerobiology, aerosol instrumentation, characterization, dissemination and calibration and aerosol physics.
  • Maintains and operates aerosol science laboratories up to Bio-Safety Level III (BSL3), including the Aerosol Characterization Facility, Aerosol Simulant Exposure Chamber and Containment Aerosol Chamber.
  • Is responsible for the management and operation of outdoor field trials utilizing biological simulants.
  • Prepares test chambers and support equipment for simulant and pathogen aerosol testing. Responsible for the characterization (particle size and concentration) of aerosols utilized for testing to include the operation of test fixtures and aerosol generation and sampling equipment.
  • Identifies methodology shortfalls dealing with aerosol issues. Develops and executes methodology investigations to remedy deficiencies.

Bio-Technology Branch – Functions

  • Provides expertise in testing and evaluation of biological defense systems and equipment with applications spanning multiple disciplines including microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, metrology, aerosol science, materials science, and environmental science.
  • Produces bacteria, fungi, viruses, toxins, agent-like organisms, biological simulates, and environmental interferents for joint CBDP developmental and operational testing and evaluation.
  • Operates fully capable Bio Safety Level III (BSL3) laboratories employing personnel certified in Biological Personal Reliability Program and Special Immunization Program.
  • Conducts rigorous qualitative and quantitative analysis of biological test materials from government and civilian programs utilizing techniques such as: ELISA, qPCR, RT-PCR, MicroSeq, VNTR, ECL, MIDI, Biolog, API Test Strips, BCA Protein Assay, ProteomeLab PF 2D, GC-MS, HPLC, gradient centrifugation, gel electrophoresis, scanning and transmission electron microscopy, and optical spectrophotometery (FTIR, UV-VIS, fluorescence, and backscatter), as well as practices traditional microbiological, small mammalian, and chemical techniques.
  • Designs and implements testing protocols for point- & standoff-detection systems, individual protection and collective protection equipment, decontamination reagents and materials, stability and survivability studies.
  • Carries out regular technical readiness evaluations and validation/accreditation studies of acquisition technologies.

******

Carol Ezzell wrote in Nature (1988) …

http://www.foet.org/past/documents/NatureSeptember291988.pdf

  • Yielding to pressure from local residents and anti-biotechnology activist Jeremy Rifkin, the US army last week announced that it will drop its plans to build a high-containment weapons laboratory at its Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.
  • Instead the army intends to construct a less sophisticated facility that would not be suitable for testing the microbes which most worry opponents: genetically engineered microbes and those which cause incurable diseases.
  • The army has contended that the tests it plans to conduct at the Dugway facility do not require the highest containment level (biosafety level 4), but that it would prefer to build such a facility in case its needs change, and as an added degree of safety.
  • It played down the option of building a lower-containment biosafety level 3 laboratory on these grounds in the environmental impact statement on its biological defence activities. That impact statement was produced as a result of a lawsuit brought by Rifkin in 1985 (see Nature 331, 647; 1988).

******

Leigh Dethman wrote in the Deseret Morning News (5/26/2005) …

  • Nobody really knows everything that happens at Dugway Proving Ground.
  • The military base in Utah’s west desert where defenses against deadly biological and chemical weapons are tested is a constant target of rumors and speculation.
  • But one thing is certain — Dugway’s mission is valuable to the Department of Defense.
  • The facility received top rankings from the Pentagon in a report released to the Base Realignment and Closure commission.
  • Dugway’s primary mission is to test chemical and biological defense systems. The facility also performs nuclear, biological and chemical survivability testing on defense gear.
  • Utah’s congressional delegation believes Dugway’s mission will increase dramatically, but that it will be funded through the Department of Homeland Security.

******

LMW COMMENT …

I have been trying to get Dugway’s budget numbers for bio-defense work in the years since 2001, so far without success. Does anyone have a source for that information?

******

I don’t claim to know who committed the 2001 anthrax attacks.

But I have written a novel which tells a story that many readers, including a highly respected member of the U.S. Intelligence Community, say is “quite plausible.”

what do readers say about CASE CLOSED?

https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/case-closed-reader-comments/

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *


15 Responses to “* Dugway Proving Ground … a major U.S. Army resource for bio-defense research and testing … how has Dugway’s budget been impacted by the 2001 anthrax attacks?”

  1. DXer said

    What surrogate did these University of Michigan researchers use at Dugway for their aerosol experiments?

    “Victory Site: Last December [December 1999] Tarek Hamouda, Amy Shih and Jim Baker traveled to a remote military station in the Utah desert. There they demonstrated for the U.S. Army Research and Development Command the amazing ability of non-toxic nanoemulsions (petite droplets of fat mixed with water and detergent) developed at Michigan to wipe out deadly anthrax-like bacterial spores. The square vertical surfaces shown here were covered with bacterial spores; Michigan’s innocuous nanoemulsion was most effective in killing the spores even when compared to highly toxic chemicals.”

    • DXer said

      An EPA report explains: “In December 1999, the U.S. Army tested a broad spectrum nanoemulsion and nine other decontamination technologies in Dugway, Utah, against an anthrax surrogate, Bacillus globigii. Nanoemulsion was one of four technologies that proved effective and was the only nontoxic formulation available. Other tests against the vaccine strain of B. anthracis (Sterne strain) were conducted by the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and by the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research.”

  2. DXer said

    For a description of the anthrax decontamination aerosol testing done at Dugway, by the former Zawahiri associate supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins, see

    Anthrax and Al Qaeda: The Infiltration of US Biodefense
    http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1443811

    http://www.anthraxandalqaeda.com

  3. DXer said

    Official: Utah Army base reopening after lockdown

    Jan. 27, 2011, 6:24AM

    SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah military base that carries out tests to protect troops against biological attacks was locked down over a “serious concern,” but was beginning to reopen early Thursday, officials said.

    Base commander Col. William E. King announced Wednesday evening that gates were locked to both incoming and outgoing personnel to resolve the problem, but that no one was in danger.

    King and other base officials declined to provide any details on the cause of the lockdown.

    About 5 a.m. MST Thursday, base spokeswoman Paula Thomas said the base had reopened to incoming personnel, and preparations were under way to allow people inside to leave.

    She said there were no injuries resulting from the cause of the lockdown, which began about 5:30 p.m. She said more details would be released later in the day.

    Thomas called as accurate media reports that about 1,200 to 1,400 people — a mix of military personnel and contractors and civilian workers — were inside the base when the lockdown occurred.

    In his statement Wednesday, King said: “We are working as quickly and as thoroughly as possible to resolve a serious concern within the Test Area. … Measures like these (lock down of our gates) are not taken lightly. No one is in immediate danger but these steps are required.”

    Military weapons are tested at Dugway, located about 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Its primary mission is defending troops against biological and chemical attacks.

    Encompassing more than 800,000 acres of Utah’s west desert, the base also is used by the U.S. Army Reserves and the U.S. National Guard for maneuver training.

  4. BugMaster said

    It seems to me that to use a “single colony pick” to obtain a subculture for a challenge isolate would be incorrect.

    One would want to pick, at the very least, several colonies to avoid ending up with a mutant strain, due to picking a single mutated colony that showed no morphological evidence of having mutated.

    This would explain why RMR-1029 came from a lot of smaller aliquots pooled together to make a “reference material”.

    If you are sub-culturing a strain under laboratory conditions (on plates instead of inside a cow), I don’t think it would be wise over the long term to count on a “single colony pick”.

  5. DXer said

    The Amerithrax Summary (pp. 27-28 & n.11) states:

    “Investigators attempted to account for the 100 ml math error identified in Dr. Ivins’s RMR-1029 Receipt Log, scrutinizing each entry by reviewing the associated laboratory notebooks, and interviewing each of the researchers to whom the material was transferred. In addition, investigators reviewed every lab notebook associated with aerosol challenges and vaccine research in general, looking for work using RMR-1029 that was not recorded. Investigators identified 14 unrecorded “withdrawals” from RMR-1029 prior to the mailings, including usages by Dr. Ivins himself and transfers to other researchers, each of whom was investigated. According to this review, there was approximately 220 ml of RMR-1029 that was unaccounted for on Dr. Ivins’s Reference Material Receipt record prior to the mailings in 2001.

    During the time that Dr. Ivins was transferring quantities of spores to, for example, aerobiology for animal challenges and outside labs for their research, lab technicians continued to make spores at the behest of Dr. Ivins, thinking that the spores were needed to go into RMR1029. His junior lab technician [Mara Linscott, Former Colleague #1] thought that the “Dugway Spores” were exhausted, so she needed to make spores for the animal challenges. In fact, she was under the impression that she was hired expressly for this purpose. His senior lab technician [Patricia Fellows, “Former Colleague #2], on the other hand, thought that she was continuously making spores to add to the existing stock of “Dugway Spores.” In fact, the investigation revealed that there were never any additions to RMR-1029 after its creation in October 1997.

    Investigators unsuccessfully attempted to determine what happened to these spores. However, there is no evidence that RMR-1029 was the parent material to these new spores, as the laboratory technicians were utilizing frozen stock of Bacillus anthracis – and not liquid suspension such as RMR-1029 – as the parent material for their new spore preparations. In addition, the technique they used to grow new spores, known as a “single-colony pick,” would not produce genetically identical material to the parent material, making it extremely unlikely that these missing spores were utilized in the anthrax attacks”

    Query: did the “frozen stock” have the same Silicon Signal as Flask 1030? Did it have the same Silicon Signal as the mailed anthrax?

    The DOJ does not cite any documentation for the proposition that the single-colony pick method was used. It should do so. The DOJ needs to produce the lab notebooks.

    • Old Atlantic said

      Under the sentencing guidelines, the DOJ’s mercy is restricted to its incompetence. Unfortunately, this means mercy is limited to the guilty who get away.

    • DXer said

      With respect to FTD 1004 FROZEN CULTURE, who made several subcultures or serially passage the organism when growing them (as distinguished from using a single colony pick? Whose name is redacted? Is that the frozen culture about which Patricia was referring? If so, the missing 200 ml might have the 4 morphs, wouldn’t it?

      February 18, 2008

      IVINS was then shown two photographs of spores grown on blood agar plates. One photograph was labeled “IVIN’S SPORE PREPARATION” while the other was labeled “FTD 1004 FROZEN CULTURE.” IVINS had previously typed captions under each photograph which proportedly explained what was depicted in them. IVINS was asked if the captions verbalized what was meant by the diagram.

      The captions under the photographs read as follows:

      “Ames strain – From XXXXX culture collection at USAMRIID. Similar in appearance to the Bacillus anthracis colonies from mail. Sent to XXXXX who sent it to XXXXX, who sent it to XXXXXX. This version of the Ames strain was serially passaged before freezing down and storing in the culture collection.”

      “Ames strain – from original agar slant from Ames, Iowa, USDA. This is the version of the Ames strain used by XXXXX and Bruce Ivins. This version of the Ames strain given to Dugway Proving Ground, Battelle Memorial Research Institute, DRES, and U. of New Mexico.”

      After reading the captions and examining the photographs, IVINS explained that he obtained the photographs from XXXXX and typed the captions under them. Althought IVINS was able to understand what the diagram and captions explained, he could not remember the specific interview which caused him to create them. Additionally, he would not adopt the statements or explanations as he own beliefs.

      IVINS eventually explained that XXXXX would make several subcultures, or serial passage the organism when growing them. This caused variants or mutations to appear. IVINS did not use serial passages. Rather, his cultures were all grown from the original slant provided to USAMRIID by the USDA, thereby preventing the creation of variants or mutations.

  6. DXer said

    Former Colleague #2 (Patricia Fellows) and Former Colleague #1 (Mara Linscott), Ivins’ assistants, were thanked by the former Zawahiri associate for providing technical assistance with regard to the Ames research (in numerous patents I’ve often excerpted). Pat and Mara made 200 ml of virulent Ames and the FBI does not know where it went. (This is in addition to the 100 ml discrepancy).

    Dr. Ivins brainstormed the theory that Pat and Mara were responsible. His reasoning is extremely weak in numerous respects to include most notably lack of motive. The fact that Former Colleague #1 had family in the Northeast (i.e., Ithaca) is particularly weak. Having been lost yesterday on Ithaca’s one-way streets, I can attest that having family in the Northeast is not worth mentioning on such a list.

    But I mention it because the FBI cannot account for 200 ml virulent Ames made by Former Colleague #1 and Former Colleague #2.

    But I mention it because the FBI cannot account for 200 ml virulent Ames made by Former Colleague #1 and Former Colleague #2.

    But I mention it because the FBI cannot account for 200 ml virulent Ames made by Former Colleague #1 and Former Colleague #2.

    Let me say that again: Pat and Mara — or rather, Ivins’ two assistants as described in the Amerithrax Summary — made 200 ml that they say they don’t know where it went.

    The point Pat urges though is that it was grown using the “single pick” method which would not have resulted in the 4 morphs. But what confirmation does the FBI have that the single pick method was used for that additional 200 ml? If such confirmation exists in the lab notebooks, by all means, comply with the law and produce the lab notebooks.

    More fundamentally, the FBI has an entirely inappropriate focus. First, the submission of some slants was in fact done by Patricia Fellows (Former Colleague #2). She was thanked by the Former Zawahiri scientist who was supplied virulent Ames for the DARPA research.

    Now I realize that $50 million of the $70 million investment in NanoBio came from Perseus, and $25 million of that while headed by the highly respected, much loved, and very powerful and tenacious Richard Holbrooke. But that investment came years after 2001. Far more troubling is — judging by what was produced — that the FBI did not received the 16 critical pages about the research by the former Zawahiri associate until the February 2005 fax. Those 16 pages were faxed from Arthur F.’s fax number (he was also thanked by Tarek). Judging by what was produced, that seems to be investigative incompetence. (There of course could be a warehouse of investigative materials not produced — for example, there were early subpoenas to LSU and University of Michigan where research also was done, to include a BL-3 lab provided by the FBI’s genetics expert KS in charge of testing Ivins’ sample at NAU. But it would seem that the squad considering Ivins was not privy to it or else it should have been produced).

    Ivins’ brainstormed theory as to motivation is pretty much non-existent. But the fact that Pat prepared some of the slants guts the reasonableness of the reliance by the FBI on the submission of samples issue. Given she prepared 200 ml virulent Ames that was missing, and given it was the DARPA researchers who made an aerosol out of Ames from Flask 1029 who discovered the 4 morphs and threw out Ivins’ sample, Amerithrax is truly a mess even though I totally credit both their expertise and good faith. In fact, I credit the good faith and expertise of all the scientists and investigators. I just think they are wrong and that too much is at stake not to fix the mistake. There are two ways that this can proceed. They can either roll up their sleeves and re-open Amerithrax — or they can be part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

    I just think that these scientists don’t know jack about Ayman Zawahiri’s plan to use anthrax to attack the United States under the cover of charities and universities and the infiltration of US biodefense. And have never tried to understand. So the failure of Amerithrax is the fault of every scientist, every investigator, and every prosecutor who never bothered to educate themselves and address the issues. Only forthright dealing with the issues will lead to a path out of the thicket.

    Moreover, did you ever hear US Attorney Taylor mention that in addition to the 100 ml discrepancy, there was 200 ml made by Patricia and Mara unaccounted for? (I didn’t.) He wasn’t even right about the building Flask 1029 was stored — that is, that the number with access was two or three times more than the 100 he posited (and that’s just at USAMRIID alone).

    Is the missing 300 ml virulent Ames about exactly what it would take? Doesn’t the FBI think maybe they should figure out where the 300 ml is?

    Mara and I, as it turns out, like the same Ithaca bookstore.

    Who was the outside researcher that Pat complained to about Bruce? Tarek, was it you?

    Have you ever noticed that despite my extensive contact with NanoBio’s found James Baker, no one has even casually suggested that my characterization of Tarek as “former Zawahiri associate” is inapt? James is not a wilting willow and yet has never denied it. Not once. He only made sure to emphasize that while at USAMRIID Tarek was under the supervision of a microbiologist — James knows how to cover his ass.

    Tarek’s small company garnered $70 million in investment after the mailings — without a product. So that’s a pretty big ass James is covering. The small company pitched their decontamination agent to the Capitol and pitched hand cream to postal worker. They had tested the decontamination agent at Dugway (as at other labs) in aerosol experiments. The isotope ratios, I believe, exclude Dugway according to an MSNBC report that the analysis limited things to the Northeastern United States. So at least there is reason to think it was not grown there at Dugway.

    On the isotope ratios, the difficulty was in not being able to further distinguish, for example, between Ohio and North Carolina.

    “I’m seriously wondering if [Former Colleague #2] and [Former
    Colleague #1] may have been involved. Note the following:

    1) [Former Colleague #2] . . . made the finest preparations of
    anthrax spores, and [Former Colleague #1] was her loyal
    understudy.

    2) [For two years] the two of them made countless preparations of
    anthrax spores. They made them together and I wasn’t in the suite
    when they made and purified them.

    3) Former Colleague #2 secretly complained to [Former Colleague
    #1] and [a researcher at a different lab] about her supervisor (me)
    and then was dishonest about it when confronted by me.

    4) [Former Colleague #1] was dishonest when confronted by me
    with questions concerning the above situation.

    5) [Former Colleague #1] is extremely familiar with the Northeast,
    and the letters were mailed from the Northeast.

    6) [Former Colleague #2] and [Former Colleague #1] were very
    close for a number of reasons, [listing various reasons].

    7) Less than a year after the anthrax letter attacks, [Former
    Colleague #2] left USAMRIID as an internationally recognized
    authority on anthrax spores and their production and purification,
    and she took a job in the private sector. Since then her career has
    moved upward rapidly.

    [Former Colleague #2] and [Former Colleague #1] had the
    opportunity to make “anthrax letter spores,” and they had motives.
    For [Former Colleague #2], the twin motives of revenge on her
    supervisor and giving her career a boost would be at the front. For
    [Former Colleague #1], loyalty to her best friend and mentor while
    in Frederick, combined also with revenge on her supervisor, would
    be at the front.

    9) . . . I have to wonder if there was outside assistance from one or
    more individuals – perhaps known to [Former Colleague #1] – who
    would have biochemical/pharmaceutical experience to make the
    spores into a powder.

    10) . . . [Former Colleague #1] may have had connections that
    could [mail the spores]. Her family is from New York, and she has
    many friends in the Northeast.

    11) Finally, this is merely a theory, not an accusation. For both
    individuals, ([Former Colleague #2] and [Former Colleague #1])
    motive is present, availability (of the Ames strain of Bacillus
    anthracis) is present, knowledge of how to make large quantities of
    pure spores is present. Furthermore, with Former Colleague #1’s
    personal and family connections, mailing the letters would not
    have been a problem. The one piece of the puzzle that would need
    to be filled is how they weaponized the spores into a powder.
    Perhaps [Former Colleague #1] was able to look the information
    up or get the information from someone she knew. Again, perhaps
    one or more other individuals were involve in weaponizing their
    anthrax spores into powder form.

    12) Again, this is just an idea, but it’s an idea that makes sense.”

    • DXer said

    • DXer said

      The brainstorming done by Dr. Ivins was in an email to himself. (If you know you are under surveillance, it would not be unexpected to know you are simultaneously communicating with the FBI). The FBI has never disclosed the tapes of conversations between Dr. Ivins and Former Colleague #1 and Former Colleague #2.

      I take offense to AUSA’s statement in the Summary:

      “Dr. Ivins’s e-mails revealed that he felt unnaturally close to these former colleagues.”

      What is unnatural about feelings of liking and admiration? It is a fact of life that people will tend to feel closer to people they see regularly. (And just because Bruce sometimes felt paranoid doesn’t mean that the investigators weren’t going to try to mistakenly pin Amerithrax on him.)

      Let’s compare that US Attorney’s Office with Dr. Ivins’ “unnatural” liking and respect for his colleagues. (He was especially impressed with Pat’s technical prowess). In that US Attorney’s office, during the pendency of the Amerithrax investigation, one married AUSA walked into the female prosecutor’s office — whom he had been secretly dating until she broke it off — with his penis hanging out.

      So as to remind her what she was going to be missing. Now THAT’S unnatural. That’s dysfunctional.

      He was in charge of doling out assignments to the young female AUSA’s in the office and emails showed that he would ask them out for drinks.

      The female supervisor who broke off the affair with him was nicknamed the “Ice Princess.”

      An accomplished and senior prosecutor, she was reprimanded for going to see a jihadi in jail to ask about the case she was working on who superiors had declared off-limits. Guess who the jihadi was?

      In comparison, Bruce sending anonymous gifts to a former subordinate — which she interpreted as kindnesses — is not unnatural. It’s sweet.

      So I don’t even want to ever hear again about Dr. Ivins’ feelings of liking and admiration as unnatural.

      As for him not having friends, I think the record shows that to be clearly incorrect.

      It’s almost as if the AUSA writing the Summary had not even read Dr. Ivins’ emails over the decade — being too distracted by other matters that happened to come into the office.

  7. Old Atlantic said

    Dugway and Battelle seem to be sacred sites to the government. For some reason Ft. Detrick does not have that status. Or does it only seem that way? We knew nothing of Dr. Ezzell’s lab work with anthrax for years. Perhaps most of Ft. Detrick is a sacred site and we don’t know it.

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