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

* responses to Congressman Nadler’s questions of the FBI regarding the % of weight of the silicon in the powder used in the 2001 anthrax attacks

Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 20, 2011

Congressman Nadler & FBI Director Mueller

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18 Responses to “* responses to Congressman Nadler’s questions of the FBI regarding the % of weight of the silicon in the powder used in the 2001 anthrax attacks”

  1. Old Atlantic said

    The letter is dated April 17, 2009.

    Reply from questions after Sep 16, 2009 hearing.

    The data is current as of Dec 18, 2009.

    So they prepared the response by Dec 18, 2009 and then held it until April 17, 2009.

    They must have known then it was garbled.

    They have not corrected it for almost 2 years.

    • DXer said

      You mean “Sep 16, 2008 hearing” (not Sep 19, 2009). And you mean that the data was current as of Dec 18, 2008 (not 2009).

      Typically when text is garbled it was garbled by accident and not intentionally.

      It greatly reduces the likelihood that one’s argument is going to be deemed persuasive to the reader if one infers his bad faith.

      Old Atlantic said

      January 20, 2011 at 8:01 pm
      The letter is dated April 17, 2009.

      Reply from questions after Sep 16, 2009 hearing.

      The data is current as of Dec 18, 2009.

      So they prepared the response by Dec 18, 2009 and then held it until April 17, 2009.

      They must have known then it was garbled.

      They have not corrected it for almost 2 years.

  2. Old Atlantic said

    As pointed out by others, the last response of the FBI director makes no sense for Dugway and Battelle. He says

    1) They got the same RMR-1029

    2) If a lab didn’t get it, it is excluded.

    Therefore they are excluded.

    This is a logical fallacy. Should be a first week homework problem in intro logic.

    Any lab with the equipment should be suspect, because someone could have got the RMR-1029 with an accomplice and used it.

    • DXer said

      The response made no sense whatsoever. It seems to have involved an editing error.

      UNM got samples from the flask. Why wasn’t that a match?

      Dugway. Battelle. Why do they refer to only two facilities?

      Sometimes I get the impression that these busy officials are seriously confused.

      • BugMaster said

        Perhaps they want us to believe that powdered material could only be made at Dugway, not Battelle in Ohio.

        Were there any transfers of RMR-1029 material to Dugway? If not, this is what they are trying to claim, that no one in Ohio could have made the material (the attack material they haven’t been able to reverse engineer, and admit they don’t know how it was made!).

    • Roberto said

      Yeah, I know they have (incomplete?) records of transfers and stuff from log-books and lab notes – but I’ve never really been sure why an illicit manufacture of an illegal, deadly bacteria would have to take place necessarily in a legitimate lab. I admit there’s some logic that the Ba *was* made in a secure lab which had some regulations and precautions, but I never understood the tacit denial of the possibility that a criminal (or criminals) made the anthrax in secret at a facility unknown to authorities… especially since history shows that’s where most illicit substances are made.

      If anthrax was quietly stolen at some point – and we (at least I) have no idea if it was or not – then what does it mean to preclude labs other than B-313? Is measuring how much anthrax was made and distributed from RMR-1029 over a period of years more, or less, difficult than measuring how much sourdough starter was made and distributed (and stolen?) from San Francisco’s Boudin Bakery?

      • BugMaster said

        Mueller’s illogical answer to question #15 is his way of saying:

        We’re not going to answer that question.

        Or in otherwords, how, on what basis, and using what evidence were Dugway and Battelle excluded?

        They weren’t. But no one associated with their organizations suddenly dropped dead, so, (they hope) it had to be Ivins.

      • BugMaster said

        There’s another explanation.

        Nadler specifically asks about the Battelle facility at West Jefferson. He doesn’t say anything about the 505 King Ave. facility on the Ohio State campus.

        Only problem:

        Battelle has stated that no challenge material (as in RMR-1029)was ever present at the 505 King Avenue address.

        • BugMaster said

          Also note that staff from King Ave would regularly go to West Jefferson and Dugway.

          Dr. Bob Hunt, who according to Ivin’s log was the recipient of the RMR-1029 material is listed as being at 505 King Ave, not West Jefferson.

          Of course, that could have just be his office / administrative address.

          But from what I understand, Ivins never should have sent it there.

        • DXer said

          Note that anthrax was just a BL-2 pathogen prior to 911.

          At ISU, virulent anthrax was kept in a classroom.

          Battelle was a registered facility.

          If Battelle’s CDC registration form is public, what does it say?

        • BugMaster said

          DXer:

          The Sterne strain may have been BL-2, as it is avirulent (lacks a capsule).

          Are you sure Ames would have been considered BL-2 at the time?

        • DXer said

          Yes, as I noted in June 2009, “Pre-911 anthrax was a BL-2 pathogen in its liquid form but if you are going to do wet aerosol experiments, you can’t just do it anywhere.” The issue first publicly arose when some University President in the southwestern U.S. addressed the mistaken sending of anthrax that was virulent. This wasn’t the Children’s Hospital incident but another. The letter is online somewhere.

        • DXer said

          You’ll recall the shipment was specifically reviewed and approved by the appropriate personnel at USAMRIID. See emails. The biosecurity officer required, as I vaguely recall, that it be broken up into to shipments.

        • BugMaster said

          “You’ll recall the shipment was specifically reviewed and approved by the appropriate personnel at USAMRIID. See emails. The biosecurity officer required, as I vaguely recall, that it be broken up into to shipments.”

          DXer:

          From what I remember, that email was specifically referring to one of the large shipments to Battelle!

          So some of it was mis-routed??!!

          Guess that explains the exclaimation points next to the Battelle shipments on the revised FBI log sheet.

        • DXer said

          You’ve lost me. I don’t know why you think any of the package of 90 ml was misrouted. I would ground the discussion on the emails and the documents. You’ve asserted it was sent to Battelle HQ. Battelle, of course, was registered with the CDC. As I best recall the emails, Dr. Ivins was emailing his Battelle contact (probably BH) and saying that the the 90 ml would need to be broken up to a 50 ml and a 40 ml. But as always, the documents are the best guide and the issue is one you are interested in and so I would leave it to you to pull the emails. Bob, of course, is reachable by email and could clarify any open questions. The research was all fully authorized research for biodefense purposes.

        • DXer said

          From:
          Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2001 1:50 PM
          To: ‘Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID’
          Subject: RE: EA 101
          OK, ,
          I will send you 70 ml of Ames spores at 3.9 X 10^10 CFU per ml. This
          should be more than enough. I calculated that you will need about 56 ml of
          spores for the studies you described (117 aerosol challenges + 30 parenteral
          challenges). Here’s how we would dilute the spores to give 100 aerosol LD50s
          and 200 aerosol LD50. (For your needs, it sounds like each rabbit would need
          about 9 ml of diluted spores):

          a) For each tube, 100 LD50s per 10-minute aerosol challenge: 0.35 ml
          undiluted spores + 8.65 ml WFI
          b) For each tube, 200 LD50s per 10-minute aerosol challenge: 0.7 ml
          undiluted spores + 8.3 ml WFI

          As you can see, we would dilute the original 3.9X 10^10 spore suspsension
          1:13 for 200 LD50s and 1:26 for 100 LD50s.

          We’ll get the spores ready to send to you next week.
          – Bruce

          From: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
          To:
          Subject: RE: EA 101
          Date: Sunday, May 06, 2001 3:14:31 PM
          Our Safety people want me to only send 50 ml of the spores, so that is what I will do Tuesday. I can send you more in a second shipment.
          – Bruce

          From: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
          To:
          Subject: Spore information
          Date: Tuesday, May 08, 2001 11:10:03 AM
          Hi,
          Here is information on the B. anthracis Ames spores we sent you:
          B. anthracis Ames Spores, RMR 1029
          Reference = USAMRIID Notebook #4010, Bruce Ivins
          Prepared in 1997 at Dugway Proving Ground – POC =
          Purified in 1997 at USAMRIID – POC = Bruce Ivins, email –
          bruce.ivins@AMEDD.ARMY.MIL
          50 ml shipped to Battelle, on 8 May 2001, in two 50-ml polypropylene tubes, 25 ml of spore suspension per tube
          Concentration = approximately 3.9 X 10^10 per ml in 1% phenol
          Shipped on gel ice
          Bruce Ivins
          USAMRIID Bacteriology Division
          8 MAY 01

        • DXer said

          From: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
          To:
          Bcc:
          Subject: RE: Spores and Foaming
          Date: Tuesday, June 05, 2001 7:29:36 AM
          , When we mix the spores at that concentration, we don’t vortex. I should have said that. I think the
          reason that it may foam is that the spore suspension is so pure. In the Vollum 1B spore suspension from 1965 which is about 4 – 5 X 10^10 per ml, and MUCH dirtier, there is no foaming upon vortexing. The spores you have were twice purified with Hypaque gradient centrifugation. The spores are very hydrophobic, I believe. I suppose you could try to add a little Tween 80 to the spores to see if that
          helps. I’ve heard that in the “OLD DAYS” back in the 50s and 60s here at Detrick, they would soemtimes add a little Tween 80 to the spores to be aerosolized. We haven’t added any because we didn’t want to introduce another variable into the challenge. If you add something else to the spores being aerosolized,
          you may have to be able to demonstrate that the “anti-foam” has no effect on spore LD50, the infection process, or the specific immune response to the infection. As I said, when we mix the spores at that concentration, we just rock back and forth or gently swirl. If you want to add something to the spores
          before challenge, I think you should first run it by the IPT for their comments.
          – Bruce

          From:
          Sent: Monday, June 04, 2001 5:06 PM
          To: ‘Bruce.Ivins@DET.AMEDD.ARMY.MIL’
          Subject: Spores and Foaming
          Bruce,
          thought it would be easier if I contacted you directly. With regard to
          the foaming issue. When I go back to the original suspension you sent in
          the 50 ml conical tube and vortex it the same foaming phenomenon occurs. So
          I do not believe it is a glassware problem or washing problem. If you
          will/could go back to one of your 10E10 stocks of the same spore prep. and
          also make a 10E9 dilution and vortex it to see if you get the same thing.
          As described before, it’s like whipped cream on top of the water and
          will not go back into suspension unless it sits for a day or more. When I
          enumerate the suspension under the whipped cream it is 0.5-1 log lower than
          what is expected (i.e. what should be 10E9 is 5 x 10E8 to 1 x 10E8). In the
          mean time do you have any ideas on a defoaming agent?

          From: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
          To: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID; ”
          Cc:
          Subject: RE: Spores and counting
          Date: Wednesday, June 20, 2001 8:46:20 AM

          Did you get the spores? Did they arrive OK? We’re interested to see how the aerosol with them goes.
          – Bruce

          —–Original Message—–
          From: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
          Sent: Monday, June 18, 2001 1:34 PM
          To: ‘ Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
          Cc:
          Subject: RE: Spores and counting
          The spores were sent to this morning by Federal Express. Please let me know when you get them. Also, keep me posted on your tests with them, so, if we need to, we can plan a trip up there for next week. Remember, avoid vortexing and vigorously shaking them. If it seems as if the spores I sent you are clumped a bit at the top, then take the spores you need from about midway down into the
          suspension after you resuspend them.
          – Bruce

          From: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
          To:
          Bcc:
          Subject: RE: Spores and Foaming
          Date: Tuesday, June 05, 2001 9:04:29 AM
          , these spores are exactly the same spores used for the other rabbits for BioPort. We do get some foaming, but still get a high dose with 3 X 10^9 per ml. Would it help to use more suspension in your container? We’ve used these spores for quite awhile with success. As I said, maybe it’s because they are so clean that they clump. If there were some cell material stuck to the outside, perhaps they would
          perform a little more like the old Vollum 1B spore suspension or like some of the less pure Ames spore suspensions we have used in the past.
          – Bruce

          From:
          Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2001 8:24 AM
          To: ‘Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID’
          Cc:
          Subject: RE: Spores and Foaming
          Bruce,
          One other question. Is were the spores that you sent to us prepared the
          same way as the ones RIID used on the BioPort rabbit studies or the same
          spore prep.? Or did you use different AMES spores? Looks like even though
          I’m a log low on the AGIs than expected I can still hit the targeted LD50
          range and will use These spores and mix by inversion. Thanks for answering
          my questions

          —–Original Message—–
          From: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID [mailto:Bruce.Ivins@DET.AMEDD.ARMY.MIL]
          Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2001 7:30 AM
          To: ‘
          Subject: RE: Spores and Foaming

          , When we mix the spores at that concentration, we don’t vortex. I should
          have said that. I think the reason that it may foam is that the spore
          suspension is so pure. In the Vollum 1B spore suspension from 1965 which is
          about 4 – 5 X 10^10 per ml, and MUCH dirtier, there is no foaming upon
          vortexing. The spores you have were twice purified with Hypaque gradient
          centrifugation. The spores are very hydrophobic, I believe. I suppose you
          could try to add a little Tween 80 to the spores to see if that helps. I’ve
          heard that in the “OLD DAYS” back in the 50s and 60s here at Detrick, they
          would soemtimes add a little Tween 80 to the spores to be aerosolized. We
          haven’t added any because we didn’t want to introduce another variable into
          the challenge. If you add something else to the spores being aerosolized,
          you may have to be able to demonstrate that the “anti-foam” has no effect on
          spore LD50, the infection process, or the specific immune response to the
          infection. As I said, when we mix the spores at that concentration, we just
          rock back and forth or gently swirl. If you want to add something to the
          spores before challenge, I think you should first run it by the IPT for
          their comments.

      • BugMaster said

        Hey Roberto!

        Check it out!

        Nice alias BTW!

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