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

* Review of the Scientific Approaches used During the FBI’s Investigation of the 2001 Bacillus Anthracis Mailings – Updated List Of Documents on File With the NAS

Posted by DXer on January 20, 2011

are FBI and NAS fighting or colluding?

Sent 1/19/2010

Review of the Scientific Approaches used During the FBI’s Investigation of the 2001 Bacillus Anthracis Mailings

Pin# BLSX-K-08-10-A

1. 7/2/2009
email from Joseph Baltar, affiliation unknown
title: FBI WATCH [BLSX-K-08-10-A] – Review of the Scientific Approaches used During the FBI’s Investigation of the 2001 Bacillus Anthracis Mailings

2. 7/3/2009
email from E. Barry Skolnick, affiliation unknown
title: shall the environmental monitoring science of the FBI’s “Amerithrax” investigation be within the scope of the NAS/NRC “…Anthrax mailings”

3. 7/6/2009
email from E. Barry Skolnick, affiliation unknown
title: Shall the environmental monitoring science of the FBI’s “Amerithrax” investigations be within the scope of the NAS/NRC “…Anthrax Mailings” Project’s inquiries?
attachment: Testimony of Robert G. Hamilton, Ph.D. Subcommittee of National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, Committee on Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, May 19, 2003

4. 7/1/2009
email from Marcia Ann Chambers, affiliation unknown
title: Your appointment to the NAS on anthrax inquiry.

5. 7/9/2009
email from E. Barry Skolnick, affiliation uknown
title: Vetting the FBI’s “environmental monitoring” science [BLSX-K-08-10-A] – Review of the Scientific Approaches used During the FBI’s Investigation of the 2001 Bacillus Anthracis Mailings

6. 7/24/09
submitted by Steven E. Schutzer, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
PDF article: Building Microbial Forensics as a Response to Bioterrorism
Bruce Budowle, Steven E. Schutzer, Anja Einseln, Lynda C. Kelley, Anne C.Walsh, Jenifer A. L. Smith, Babetta L. Marrone, James Robertson, Joseph Campos. 26 SEPTEMBER 2003 VOL 301 SCIENCE

7. 7/31/09
submitted by E. Barry Skolnick, affiliation unknown
public comments addressed to committee during public comment session of meeting 1
TXT file and hard copy document

8A. 7/30/09
submitted by Chris Hassell, Federal Bureau of Investigation
PDF of Powerpoint presentation delivered to Committee during meeting 1 day 1 (with page numbers)

8B. 7/30/09
submitted by Chris Hassell, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Powerpoint presentation delivered to Committee during meeting 1 day 1 (without page numbers)

9. 8/3/09
submitted by Chris Hassell, Federal Bureau of Investigation
PDF file of comments to accompany Powerpoint presentation item #8A

10. 7/31/09
submitted by Bruce Budowle, University of North Texas Health Science Center
Powerpoint of presentation given during meeting 1 day 2

11. 7/31/09
submitted by Claire Fraser-Liggett, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Powerpoint of presentation given during meeting 1 day 2

12. 7/31/09
submitted by E. Barry Skolnick, affiliation unknown
emailed list of citations committee may wish to reference (txt format)
Attachment: PDF file of Powerpoint by Douglas Beecher on sampling techniques

13. 8/11/2009
submitted by Chris Hassell, Federal Bureau of Investigation
PDF of AMX press conference transcript – science version

14. 8/11/2009
submitted by Chris Hassell, Federal Bureau of Investigation
PDF of AMX press conference transcript – general version

15. 9/3/2009
submitted by FBI
PDF file, list of peer reviewed articles relating to anthrax investigation

16. 9/18/2009
submitted by Chris Hassell, FBI
email message
attachment: Word document copy of a Washington Post article “Trail of Odd Anthrax Cells Led FBI to Army Scientist”

17. 9/18/2009
submitted by Stuart Jacobsen
email entitled “information on reverse engineering of anthrax”

18. 10/5/09
submitted by Rita Colwell
PDF file of presentation from committee meeting 2
Title – Overview of the Scientific Investigation

19. 10/5/09
submitted by Patricia Worsham
PDF file of presentation from committee meeting 2
Title – Identification and Characterization of Bacillus anthracis variants in FBI Evidentiary Material

20. 10/5/09
submitted by Joseph Michael
PDF file of presentation from committee meeting 2
Title – Elemental Microanalysis of Bacillus Anthracis Spores from the Amerithrax Case

21. 10/5/09
submitted by Peter Weber
PDF file of presenationa from committee meeting 2
Title – Nanometer-scale secondary ion mass spectroscopy for microbial characterization: Presented to the National Research Council

22. 10/13/09
submitted by Paul Keim
PDF file of presentation from committee meeting 2
Title – The Ames Strain: Frequency, Distribution and Forensic Analysis

23. 10/14/09
email from E. Barry Skolnick
title: Changes to provisional membership [BLSX-K-08-10-A] – Review of the Scientific Approaches used During the FBI’s Investigation of the 2001 Bacillus Anthracis Mailings

24. 11/10/09
PDF file of email from Barry Kissin
title: Fort anthrax Rush Holt FNP Editorial.doc; Fort anthrax Rush Holt 10-09.doc

25. 2/16/10
Word document from Morris Goldings
title: A Philatelist Tries To Find The Anthrax Killer

26. 3/2/10
PDF of email from Ross Getman
subject: Amerithrax book

27. 3/2/10
PDF of email from E. Barry Skolnick
title: Scope and significance of “environmental sampling” practices in the Amerithrax case [“Justice Department and FBI Announce Formal Conclusion of Investigation into 2001 Anthrax Attacks” [Addendum Welcome to the United States Department of Justice]]

28. 3/2/10
PDF of email from Ross Getman
title: amendment passed- US House Seeks Further Review Of Anthrax Attack

29. 3/29/10
PDF of email from E. Barry Skolnick
title: “The Four Faces of Microbial Forensics” [Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. – Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science – 7(4):389]

30. 3/29/10
PDF of email from E. Barry Skolnick
title: New branch of “microbial forensics”? “Bacterial trail may be next forensic clue” [Fwd: ASM Weekly Newsdigest #525]

31. 3/29/10
PDF of email from Milton Leitenberg, University of Maryland
title: material for submission to the members of the NAS panel

32. 5/30/10
PDF of email from XXXXXXX (name redacted by request of sender)
title: Amerithrax NAS

33. 5/13/10
PDF of email from Jacques Ravel, University of Maryland
subject: Sequencing B. anthracis

34. 7/7/10
PDF of email from Gary Matsumoto, ProPublica
title: Silicon Levels in B. Anthracis Spores Mailed in 2001

35. 7/22/10
PDF of email from Martin Hugh-Jones with attached Word document cover letter from Martin Hugh-Jones, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, and Stuart Jacobsen and attached Word document titled: Three Markers in the Attack Anthrax as Indicators of its Source: A Compilation of Documented Data

36. 10/5/10
PDF of email from Barry Kissin with attached Word document titled: Fort anthrax memo Rush Holt 5-10.doc

37. 12/6/10
PDF of email from Ross Getman
subject: Dr. John Ezzell’s responses to technical questions

38. 12/8/10
PDF of email from Ross Getman
subject: video of FBI anthrax expert discussing science

39. 12/8/10
PDF of email from Ross Getman
subject: Dr. Ezzell’s additional comments on science

40. 12/8/10
PDF of email from (sender identity unknown)
subject: theft of anthrax spores



18 Responses to “* Review of the Scientific Approaches used During the FBI’s Investigation of the 2001 Bacillus Anthracis Mailings – Updated List Of Documents on File With the NAS”

  1. Jeff Winger said

    Dear All
    Is it possible to download the emails mentioned above somewhere?
    Thank you

    • DXer said

      I’ve emailed emails I have.

      Although I don’t recall their origin, I also seem to have the presentations #10-16, #18 which I’ll email separately (given they are too large to send in one email).

  2. DXer said

    From NAS report:

    Finding 6.3: Some of the mutations identified in the spores of the attack letters and
    detected in RMR-1029 might have arisen by parallel evolution rather than by derivation
    from RMR-1029. This possible explanation of genetic similarity between spores in the
    letters and in RMR-1029 was not rigorously explored during the course of the
    investigation, further complicating the interpretation of the apparent association between
    the B. anthracis genotypes discovered in the attack letters and those found in RMR-1029.

  3. DXer said

    On the issue of morphs:

    “In its conclusions, the FBI paid particular attention to samples carrying three or four of
    the genotypes. However, the FBI did not address the issue of false negative results. In connection
    with this issue of sensitivity of the assays, a major concern regarding the Statistical Analysis
    Report is the restriction of its analyses to the 947 samples that contained no inconclusive or
    variant results. Additionally, no errors and uncertainties of detection, nor variation in sample
    preparation, are taken into account for the analysis. Four of the 112 disregarded samples scored
    positive for the remaining three genotype assays (see Appendix C, Table C.1).
    The lack of replication in the assays of the FBIR samples makes it impossible to quantify
    the strength of any finding relating to the presence or absence of genotypes in the repository
    samples since some absences may be false negatives. Because samples were not retested and
    because the dilution experiments demonstrate the potential for different results on the same
    sample, one cannot quantify the strength of any finding related to the absence or presence of
    genotypes in the repository samples: thus, some test results of “negative” could well be false
    negatives (“present but unable to detect”). Consequently, the finding of all four genotypes in
    both RMR-1029 and seven samples from one laboratory clearly suggests a relationship between
    RMR-1029 and three of the four attack materials, but it is impossible to calculate any measure of
    “statistical strength” for this association.”

  4. DXer said

    Why didn’t the NAS review include a technical review of Rauf Ahmad’s notes and handwritten letter (he was one of the scientists working for Ayman Zawahiri)?

    • DXer said

      Why didn’t the NAS review include a technical review of the later typed correspondence from a later visit by Rauf Ahmad indicating that he had successfully achieved the targets?

  5. DXer said

    Why didn’t the NAS review include a technical review of the spraydrying documents on Al-Hawsawi’s laptop?

  6. DXer said

    Why didn’t the NAS review include a review of the documents from peer reviewed literature in Ayman Zawahiri’s possession rather than allow the former collection scientist from ATCC narrowly frame the questions around the USAMRIID scientist who tragically committed suicide?

  7. DXer said

    Prior to 9/11, when did USAMRIID’s John Ezzell, the FBI’s anthrax expert, who made a dried aerosol using Ames supplied by Bruce Ivins, send the dried spores to Johns-Hopkins Applied Physics he had made at the request of DARPA? Did those spores show a silicon signature?

  8. DXer said

    Let me summarize my understanding on some key points on which there may be a consensus:

    · There is no sound evidence that the spore products found in the letters were produced at USAMRIID.

    · There is insufficient evidence to rule in or out, as the source of the letter anthrax, the “Midwest” laboratory that possessed B. anthracis matching that in RMR1029.

    · The apparent singularity of the B. subtilis found as a contaminant in some of the samples examined makes it an institutional “fingerprint.” A discreet but thorough search needs to be mounted to find out where this apparently uncommon strain resides.

    · The fact that Bacillus subtilis was found in some but not all the samples suggests that there might have been at least two spore production runs, with one contaminated and the other clean.

    · The two very different amounts of Silicon noted in the spore samples, 1.5% and 30% – 40%, would clearly indicate two separate treatment runs.

    · Both the latter observations indicate specialized institutional experience, and suggest that the letter spores may have come from the leftover remains of production runs that had authorized purposes and that may have taken place well before Sept. 11, 2001.

    · If that is the case, knowledgeable individuals must exist who had nothing to do with the anthrax letter attacks but who possess the necessary production expertise, even if it is “secret.”

    · The disagreement between the AFIP and Sandia results requires that the quantity, location and chemical nature of the Silicon in the various letter products need to be independently determined and quantified.

    · Any specialized products that may be present in the samples should have left a paper trail that should be followed as to (a) institutions carrying out similar research, and (b) purchase records or invoices for the materials needed to produce the specialized products.

    • DXer said

      There is no paper trail for Percoll associated with Dr. Ivins. Is there?

      • DXer said

        Sandia’s data, showing that Si is present only at the spore coat, do not rule out the possibility that the spores were treated with a liquid silane or siloxane agent that penetrated the exosporium and polymerized into a phase of SiOxCx on the spore coat. Unlike fumed silica particles, silane and siloxane monomers are small molecules that are likely to pass readily through the exosporium.

  9. DXer said

    The following topics were discussed in the closed sessions:
    The committee discussed the drafting of its report.

    The following materials (written documents) were made available to the committee in the closed sessions:
    The committee reviewed documents made available to it.

    Date of posting of Closed Session Summary: January 20, 2011

    • DXer said

      Let’s listen in on the NAS meeting given all the lame and misdirected eavesdropping the FBI likely has done over the years.

      The narrow issues are framed in a way not to advance understanding in any important way. Avoidance of the photocopy toner issue is an example of how screamingly irrelevant these questions, on balance, are relative to the prejudice of the 2 1/2 years withholding of documents in violation of FACA. Public understanding would have been advanced far more effectively by compliance with FOIA and FACA.

      1) Was the methodology used to identify and assay the genetic mutations observed in Bacillus anhracis (BA) samples valid and scientifically accepted?

      [This raises the interesting question re the fact that the lab tech Terry Abshire who first noticed them (see Wash Po) article was thanked in connection with the research where a dried aerosol was made out of Flask 1029. So one question is: what are the conflict of interest principles that apply?

      2) Can genetic assays reliably prove the BA samples from the mailing letters share the same ancestor as the RMR-1029 sample? What are the statistical signfiicance of this finding and the rate of potential false positives (i.e., what are the odds of the BA samples from the letter and RMR-1029 to have the four genetic mutations but not being related)? Are the four mutation markers used by the FBI genetically stable for attribution purposes?

      [Question: Why wasn’t the UNM sample a match?]

      3) What are the likelihoods that samples with zero, one or two genetic mutations may be the parent material for the anthrax mailings?

      (This question becomes more relevant when you focus on the dramatic errata that only recently were issued. It’s odd that they would make mistakes so central to the logic of their position).

      4) Is it possible for bacterial DNA to be recovered from sterilized or decontaminated production equipment (e.g., fermentor, lyophilizer, spray dryer, etc.)

      5) What effects do growth conditions have on distribution of elements (e.g., Si), stable light isotope ratios, and C-14 dating?

      6) Could an agar-based method be used to produce similar spore preparations as those seen in the 2001 BA mailings?

      7) How easy is it to contaminate a BA production process (rudimentary or otherwise) with B subtilis?

      8) Which methods could be used to explore the distribution and concentration of elements with a BA spore? Do they provide adequate spatial resolution?

      9) “Can carbon-14 data be used to date the growth of BA samples collected from the BA mailings to within three years of 2001?”

      Note: On carbon dating, note that the question posed by the FBI referred to 3 years rather than 2 years, which allows for nutrients made in the past year. So while noting the issue of nutrients, there is a 1 year leeway that has been added with the qualification about the nutrients.

      10) Are there any reliable methods that can be used to accurately geolocate the facility / location where BA spores may have been grown?

      11) “Is there a need for post-treatment of BA to result in spore powders with a friable character? Alternatively, can BA samples dried with a rudimentary methodology pose an inhalation hazard resulting in pulmonary anthrax? Were BA spores in 2001 mailings treated post production to make them more friable? Were BA spores in 2001 mailings weaponized?”

      Question: Note that Dr. Majidi did not ask: “Were BA spores in 2001 mailings treated pre-production?” For example, was silica added to the culture medium.

      12) “Is it possible for BA spores to penetrate paper envelopes such as those used in the 2001 mailings?”

      Note: The answer is Yes. We don’t need to spend taxpayer dollars on this question. We know that it is. See, e.g., Canadian study.

      13) “Is it feasible for the mail sorting machines to have assisted in the pulverization and aerosolization of the BA spores in the postal facility.”
      [Is it feasible? Ken Alibek says yes.]

      14) Can external cross contamination of letters with BA powders result in pulmonary anthrax?
      [Yes. See Ottilie Lundgren.]

      15) In its totality, and consistent with Federal Rule of Evidence 702, would testimony regarding the methods used to link the mailed anthrax to RMR 1029 be considered by NAS (based on its review of those methods) to be (1) based upon sufficient facts or data, and (2) the product of reliable principles and methods.

      Note: The method involved not disclosing that the lab that threw out Ivins’ sample had made a dried aerosol using Flask 1029. That was kept secret and not disclosed in the lengthy Amerithrax Summary. I don’t know how scientists view conflicts of interest but lawyers and GAO and the Center for Science in the Public Interest tend to take them very seriously. How reliable a method is it when the prosecutor and lead scientists play hide-the-ball on the central issue? (Although it really only served things to narrow things marginally from 1,000 (in 2002) to several hundreds. (And that was just at USAMRIID — a comparable number at the other facilities would have had acess). Dr. Ezzell cannot be faulted — he was under a gag order. At least he deserves major kudos for so forthrightly coming forward and entertaining all questions that were asked.

      The NAS panel members can best judge whether the FBI scientists were candid before — or only after — Dr. Ezzell’s testimony was brought out on November 29, 2010.

      If the NAS panel does not reach the photocopy toner examination issue — central to the science used by the FBI in Amerithrax — then the entire enterprise just served as a means of delaying producing the documents for over two years. Many of the questions are not even in serious dispute and did not warrant the expenditure of public funds.

      Dr. Majidi in Fall 2008 noted that “a portion of research related to the above questions may be contained in US government classified documents. As such, it will be very desirable if a small number of panel members possessed appropriate USG security clearances to gain access to documents classified at the top secret level.”

      We’ve seen what the FBI sought to keep secret. And it was kept secret just to spin a very insubstantial case against Dr. Ivins who was driven to suicide by the testing of the semen-stained panties. It was kept secret to cover the FBI’s ass — with a thong bikini.

  10. DXer said

    An NAS Amerithrax panel member wrote on this subject and his work was the subject of an NPR show on Wednesday.

    Destruction of Microbial Collections in Response
    to Select Agent and Toxin List Regulations
    Arturo Casadevall and Michael J. Imperiale

    In this study we have followed up on anecdotal and hearsay evidence that microbial collections were destroyed in the United
    States following the imposition of the regulations associated with the Select Agents and Toxins List, to validate or refute that
    information. Using a questionnaire, we documented 13 episodes of microbial collection destruction involving viral, bacterial,
    and fungal strains, which we believe is almost certainly an underestimate of the number of collections destroyed. In every case,
    the motivation for the destruction of the collection was a desire to avoid the perceived burdens of the regulatory environment
    associated with operating under the Select Agent Regulations. Some institutions that destroyed isolates considered, and in
    some cases tried, transferring their collections to registered institutions prior to collection destruction but desisted when
    confronted with transport regulations. Destruction of microbial collections represents a loss of strains and biological diversity
    available for biomedical research and future mechanistic, forensic, and epidemiologic investigations. Given the rapid evolution
    of microbial strains, the destruction of archival collections is a potentially irretrievable loss that was an unintended
    consequence of regulations to protect society against the nefarious use of biological agents. Furthermore, unregistered
    institutions continue to destroy newly acquired clinical isolates, thus preventing the establishment of new repository collections.
    We recommend that government agencies develop plans to ensure that microbial collections are preserved when
    considering future additions to microbial threat lists under which the possession of certain microbes is criminalized.


    Materials and Methods
    The authors queried colleagues in the research community
    with a letter that asked ‘‘for information as to whether such
    microbial collections were destroyed in your institution in
    the post 9/11 days as the select agent regulations’’ became
    law. We asked 4 questions:
    1. Are you aware whether microbial collections were destroyed
    in your institution?
    2. If yes, what types of samples were destroyed (pathogen
    names would be helpful)?
    3. Are you aware of whether there was an attempt to save
    the collection by transferring it to a registered institution?
    4. If a paper is published with this information, do you
    have any problem with the identification of your institution
    and/or your name as the information source? If
    yes, please provide the above information, and we will
    not name you or your institution in the report.
    This letter was distributed to 1,000 individuals in the
    biosafety community through an American Biological
    Safety Association (ABSA) listserv, and to another group of
    individuals through the Center for Science and Technology
    Policy at AAAS.


    Our goal was to obtain evidence that microbial collections
    had indeed been destroyed in response to SATL regulations.
    We received 13 affirmative responses of microbial collection
    destruction in response to regulations associated with SATL
    (Table 1). The geographic distribution of these affirmative
    responses was as follows: Midwest 5, Northeast 3, South 1,
    andWest 4. In addition, we received 5 responses stating that
    no destruction had occurred in those institutions, and 4
    responses stating that the investigators had successfully
    managed to save their collections by moving them to SATLregistered

    We discerned considerable angst in the responses we
    received, with most respondents asking for anonymity. We
    suspect that concern about even participating in our survey
    could have significantly reduced the number of respondents.
    This anxiety ranged from asking for anonymity to
    one institution’s refusing to disclose the identity of the
    destroyed material and simply stating that it was bacteria.
    Another individual provided the information in an anonymous
    letter. We can only speculate as to the causes of
    anxiety over responding to our questionnaire, but we note
    that at least one correspondent worried about legalities, and
    it is our impression that most contributors just wanted to
    remain anonymous.


    Two large collections destroyed. One involved archival material
    from 1940-2002 and the other isolates from the 1950s to
    the 1980s. Investigators did not want to provide species
    identification for destroyed bacteria.

    Arturo Casadevall, MD, PhD, is a Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, and a Professor and the Leo and
    Julia Forchheimer Chair in Microbiology & Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York. Michael J. Imperiale,
    PhD, is a Professor in the Department ofMicrobiology and Immunology, University ofMichiganMedical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

    • DXer said

      To take an example of the issue whether Ames was a BL-2 pathogen prior to 9/11, when I asked James Baker, University of Michigan professor and co-founder of NanoBio, the small company supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins, whether Ames was at University of Michigan, he said no. He said UofM was not a BL-3 facility and so it would be illegal for them to have it. I told him no, that was not correct. Prior to 9/11, anthrax in wet form was a BL-2 pathogen.

      (I had asked Dr. Hanna, who helped with the study above about destruction of stocks, whether U of M had virulent Ames and he had explained that his group did not have it. But in connection to the NanoBio research with Bruce Ivins, I would have to contact Dr. Baker’s group with any questions because Phil H. was not in a position to know.)

      Dr. Baker explained that the NanoBio work (which came to garner $70 million in investment in the following years) was done in a BL-3 lab at USAMRIID under the supervision of a microbiologist. Given the Ames was supplied by Bruce, I infer the microbiologist to be either Bruce Ivins or Patricia Fellows given that Tarek thanked Bruce for supplying virulent Ames and Patricia for providing technical assistance. (The 302s indicate that they were all present and Bruce is describing his experience).

      James Baker explained that the BL-3 work at LSU involved 4 different characterized anthrax stains supplied by LSU. And the Dugway aerosol work involved a simulant. We didn’t have a chance to discuss the Johns-Hopkins or Edgewood research because I wore out his patience with follow-up questions.

      (The FBI’s genetics expert Kimothy was thanked by the University of Michigan researchers for supplying the 4 strains and for the BL-3 facilities.)

      In response, I explained to Dr. Baker that prior to 9-11, Ames in its wet form was BL-2.

      That was when James lost touch and stopped patiently responding to questions.

      I then emailed the former Zawahiri associate, Tarek, to ask him if it was ever at University of Michigan and he didn’t respond. And so I’m left only with the numerous patents thanking Bruce Ivins for supplying it.

      I emailed Tarek’s good friend, Khalid Hamid, MD, in St. Louis — who is CAIR-St. Louis and stridently anti-Israel (see his blog) — but he didn’t respond. For his part, though, Khalid has told a radio interviewer that he told the FBI that he couldn’t tell them about a sleeper cell if he didn’t know about it.

      Khalid held a press conference covered by Scott Shane explaining that terrorism would be against a doctor’s Hippocratic Oath.

      University of Michigan microbiology professor Imperiale on NPR on Wednesday explained it is hard to know who had what where and what was lost to history (and destruction by researchers who didn’t want the trouble).

      Note that transfers made physically at USAMRIID — such as the supply of virulent Ames to the University of Michigan researchers — were not recorded. (See document uploaded to this blog).

      Indeed, 200 ml of Ames made by Former Colleague #1 and #2 is missing and unaccounted for and the FBI is not concerned. Both Former Colleague #1 (Mara) and Former Colleague #2 (Pat) were thanked by Tarek for providing technical assistance.

      In fact, there even was weaponized anthrax that went missing from USAMIID about which the public knows nothing.

      These uncertainties, IMO, remain all because some FBI agents are worried about being sued over having driven Dr. Ivins suicide by testing the panties for semen — for no good reason. AUSA Kenneth Kohl had already shipped out to Iraq to handle Blackwater case and so he certainly wasn’t meaningfully in a position to review whether Dr. Ivins was in fact responsible.

      I say there are more important things to address as a country than a prosecutors’ fear of litigation and that FBI Director Mueller has to reopen Amerithrax.

      If the FBI can go so courageously after all five of the New York City historic crime families at the same time, they certainly can face down their fears about having made some good faith missteps in Amerithrax. (For all we know there was a logic in testing the semen on the panties not known to us).

      When I hear about researchers who complain about the difficulty of working with dangerous pathogens, I can’t say it concerns me. The researchers are focused only on the money they receive and don’t have the time or interest in concerning themselves with issues of biosecurity.

      For example, at GMU, there was no biosecurity officer. See Corinne Verzoni thesis on biosecurity at universities (using GMU as a case study).

      I’m reminded of the coal companies that chafe over safety regulations etc.

      The microbiology professor from University of Michigan on NPR on Wednesday.

      Curbs On Pathogens Pose Dilemma For Scientists

      by Nell GreenfieldboyceBut Imperiale says he started to hear about scientists destroying certain microbes in the wake of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the anthrax attacks that soon followed. That was when the government started imposing its new restrictions on research into pathogens that could be potentially used by terrorists.


      But Imperiale says this one survey can’t show how widespread the practice was, and it may underestimate the numbers destroyed.

      “We don’t know how many others there were out there,” he says. “We can’t say, ‘Well, X percent of the strains were destroyed,’ or something like that.”

      We don’t know how many others there were out there. We can’t say, ‘Well, X percent of the strains were destroyed,’ or something like that.

      – Michael Imperiale, microbiologist at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

  11. DXer said

    submitted by FBI
    PDF file, list of peer reviewed articles relating to anthrax investigation.

    Ed claimed that the FBI did not rely upon the Emerging Infectious Disease October 2002 article about the testing in postal facilities that concluded there were most likely two letters sent to AMI and two routes of contamination through the post offices.

  12. DXer said

    The 2004 GAO report referencing the two letters to AMI, “ANTHRAX DETECTION: Agencies Need to Validate Sampling Activities in Order to Increase Confidence in Negative Results,” cites (in fn. 71) this May 2003 testimony submitted as an attachment to the item #3 above.

    The GAO report explains that addition to traditional analytic tests, such as culture for preliminary tests, other laboratory tests were used on the postal samples. For example, for the USPS dry swab samples, some public health laboratories performed real-time PCR. Similarly, for some samples CDC and EPA collected, real-time PCR was performed. According to CDC, the confirmatory tests were generally reliable, provided that multiple tests were performed to confirm the results. However, in testimony in May 2003 a scientist from Johns Hopkins University questioned certain aspects of the protocols for the analytical procedures USPS and CDC used on premoistened and dry swab samples. In addition to differences between the CDC and USPS protocols, USPS procedures did not incorporate detergent in sample extraction to aid spore release.

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