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

* July 2010 letter to NAS panel reviewing FBI’s anthrax science from Drs. Hugh-Jones, Rosenberg & Jacobsen: There is no sound evidence that the spore products found in the letters were produced at USAMRIID

Posted by DXer on January 27, 2011





36 Responses to “* July 2010 letter to NAS panel reviewing FBI’s anthrax science from Drs. Hugh-Jones, Rosenberg & Jacobsen: There is no sound evidence that the spore products found in the letters were produced at USAMRIID”

  1. DXer said

    July 2010 letter to NAS panel reviewing FBI’s anthrax science from Drs. Hugh-Jones, Rosenberg & Jacobsen: There is no sound evidence that the spore products found in the letters were produced at USAMRIID

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 27, 2011

  2. DXer said

    Why was the FBI asking everyone whether they had seen olive oil in one of the aerosol rooms.

    Was that indicated by the forensics?

  3. DXer said

    Page 25 of the Amerithrax Investigation Summary issued October 2010 explains:

    “By the spring of 2005, there were indications that RMR-1029 was a likely candidate as the parent material. However, the assays for Morph D and Morph E had not yet been applied to the repository, so these early results were speculative. However, by early 2007, the results of FBIR examinations indicated eight FBIR submissions were positive for the mutations originally found in the anthrax letter evidence. Using submission records, investigators determined that these eight samples were derived from a single source identified as RMR-1029.”

    This was the conclusion reached by the genetics analysis. See Martin Hugh-Jones discussion of the genetics in his July 10, 2010 comment. Comments from top scientists on the comment have ranged from exactly right to thought-provoking — to include NAS panel member comment.

  4. DXer said

    IVINS opined that the samples of __________ which he sent to _______ and the University of New Mexico should also exhibit the same genetic characteristics that ________ shares with the anthrax used in the attacks. Upon being advised by the interviewin gAgent s that _____ and the University of New Mexico’s ____________ isolates do not share the same genetic characteristics, IVINS said he did not understand why and that it did not make sense.

  5. DXer said

    3/31/2005 –

    IVINS further offered that __________ once told him that _____________________________________________________________________________________________ IVINS said he heard that when MIKESELL died, his office was tested for the presence of anthrax.

  6. DXer said

    One cannot presume to understand the Silicon Signature issue without having read this article:

    8/20/2004 302 –

    On August 4, 2004, BRUCE IVINS [ of USAMRIID] reported that _____________also of USARMIID, had provided him with a scientific article abstract about Bacillus spore suspensions in which the addition of silica to the spore coat was discussed. IVINS offered to send the article abstract via facsimile to SSA __________ and subsequently sent the abstract to the FBI offsite in Frederick, Maryland. The cover sheet and article abstract are maintained in the 1A section of the file.”

  7. DXer said

    5/07/2004 302 IVINS Interview statement –

    In 2001, he sent Ames spores to BMI. IVINS _____________ went to a conference on post-exposure prophylaxis problems. At this conference, _________ (phonetic) of BMI talked about Ames which belonged to PERRY MIKESELL. MIKESELL could have taken Ames to BMI, but it should have been documented. IVINS has no knowledge of MIKESELL discreetly taking Ames from USAMRIID to BMI. If MIKESELL did so, he should not have. _______ may have more information about MIKESELL’s Ames.

    • DXer said


      When IVINS was at Battelle Memorial Institute, some of the Battelle employees talked about work PERRY MIKESELL did with Ames in the early 1990’s. IVINS thought it was very strange because IVINS never sent Ames to Battelle. He since wondered if MIKESELL might have sent it to himself or taken it with him when he left USAMRIID.

  8. DXer said

    On this issue of the massive amount of missing Ames made by the senior and junior lab tech — that the FBI just dismisses in fn. 10 and accompanying text of the Investigative Summary, an expert friend of mine confirms BugMaster’s understanding:

    RMR1029 was a GLP (Good Laboratory Practices) preparation, which wouldn’t ( shouldn’t) normally be changed by physical addition new in-house spore preps (once it gets the QC/A “stamp” of approval). Particularly with this preparation, since it’s a “composite” of numerous documented preps from Bruce and Dugway. Bruce did express concern that 1029 would dwindle down to nothing if it was constantly being used for in-house experiments. Making supplemental preps for some of this work. to conserve 1029 sounds reasonable, but adding to 1029 is odd. USAMRIID had a couple contracts out there for GLP animal studies and anticipated more in the future (fairly good sized studies). In particular, Battelle was doing some studies for us and two separate aliquots were sent to them from 1029 which were fairly high volume (50-100 mls or more, each). It would certainly make sense that you’d want to use the same working stock spore prep for the many studies performed to support approval of an experimental vaccine for a FDA IND.

    But let’s consider the hypothesis then that it was made to conserve 1029. What is the contemporaneous documentary evidence that 1029 was not the parent.

  9. DXer said

    Not So Subtilis: The Missing Contaminant in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary

    • DXer said

      Flask 1030 contained a Silicon Signature. The flask was created from aerosol leftovers. The silicon signature perhaps resulted from the use of antifoam. Might the attack anthrax resulted from experiments with antifoam at Ft. Detrick? I believe they used it to unclog nozzles. Then the massive amounts found in the first batch of letters would be just due to lesser centrifugation. See HH interview on FBI’s interest before the grand jury in the experimentation with antifoam.

      Why does the Silicon Signature point away from Ft. Detrick rather than toward it?

      Why isn’t the missing Ames given a greater importance given that the evidence is that it was intended to be added to Flask 1029.

      Dr. Ivins expressed concern that his records wouldn’t square up with his inventory and he was told to shut up — that the situation was under control. Who told him to shut up? Was it the same person who then ordered no one to have any contact with Bruce — not to contact him by any means?

      For what was Flask 1030 used?

      Was it used in connection with the DARPA research for which a dried powder was made out of Flask 1029 by the FBI’s anthrax expert? How can the FBI scientists withhold documents when they concealed that their expert made a dried powder out of Flask 1029?

  10. DXer said

    Where in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary does the DOJ address the subtilis found in the Post/Brokaw mailing? When I type the word “subtilis” I only find that the FBI excluded:

    * A foreign-born scientist with particular expertise working with a Bacillus anthracis simulant known as Bacillus subtilis, and against whom there were allegations that s/he had connections with several individuals affiliated with the al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam terrorist networks.

    But where is the issue discussed? That’s a pretty dramatic omission (if in fact the subtilis was just swept under the carpet).

  11. DXer said

    I’ll send a full copy of the article tomorrow to anyone who would like one for their personal use.

    Phylogeny and molecular taxonomy of the Bacillus subtilis species complex and description of Bacillus subtilis subsp. inaquosorum subsp. nov.

    Alejandro P. Rooney1, Neil P. J. Price2, Christopher Ehrhardt3, James L. Swezey1 and Jason D. Bannan4
    1 Microbial Genomics and Bioprocessing Research Unit, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, Peoria, IL 61604, USA
    2 Bioproducts and Biocatalysis Research Unit, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, Peoria, IL 61604, USA
    3 Counterterrorism and Forensic Science Research Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy, Quantico, VA 22135, USA
    4 Chemical-Biological Sciences Unit, Laboratory Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Quantico, VA 22135, USA

    Alejandro P. Rooney

    The Bacillus subtilis species complex is a tight assemblage of closely related species. For many years, it has been recognized that these species cannot be differentiated on the basis of phenotypic characteristics. Recently, it has been shown that phylogenetic analysis of the 16S rRNA gene also fails to differentiate species within the complex due to the highly conserved nature of the gene, yet DNA–DNA hybridization values fall well below 70 % for the same species comparisons. As a complementary approach, we propose that phylogenetic analysis of multiple protein-coding loci can be used as a means to detect and differentiate novel Bacillus taxa. Indeed, our phylogenetic analyses revealed the existence of a previously unknown group of strains closely related to, but distinct from, Bacillus subtilis subsp. spizizenii. Results of matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry analyses revealed that the group produces a novel surfactin-like lipopeptide with mass m/z 1120.8 that is not produced by the other currently recognized subspecies. In addition, the group displayed differences in the total cellular content of the fatty acids C16 : 0 and iso-C17 : 110c that distinguish it from the closely related B. subtilis subsp. spizizenii. Consequently, the correlation of these novel phenotypic traits with the phylogenetic distinctiveness of this previously unknown subspecies group showed that phylogenetic analysis of multiple protein-coding loci can be used as a means to detect and differentiate novel Bacillus taxa. Therefore, we propose that this new group should be recognized as representing a novel taxon, Bacillus subtilis subsp. inaquosorum subsp. nov., with the type strain NRRL B-23052T (=KCTC 13429T=BGSC 3A28T).

  12. DXer said

    In an August 5, 2008 memo, after Dr. Ivins committed suicide, a Hazardous Materials Response Unit recounts what the Washington Field Division had advised as to subtilis. It discusses the search of Dr. Ivins’ office and home for subtilis — and not finding it — but the memo does not address a search for subtilis elsewhere.

    Certainly, they would want to conduct such a search at Battelle and Dugway and any potential venue of manufacture. Have they? It might be as telling a signature as Ames with 4 morphs.

    The memo continues:

    “The non-anthracis Bacillus contaminant has not been detected in the anthrax spore powders recovered from the envelopes mailed to either Senators Leahy or Daschle.

    Originally, the species of the non-anthracis Bacillus contaminant was incorrectly identified by multiple laboratories, however, upon thorough characterization and genetic sequencing, the contaminant was identified to be a strain of Bacillus subtilis. This is a significant factor for the searc operations outlined herein. Since Bacillus organisms can be misidentified to belong to other Bacillus species, the guideline for the collection of cultures consistent with the Bacillus contaminant will be to collect non-anthracis Bacilus cultures.

    Bacillus subtilis is a non-pathogenic bacterium found ubiquitously in the environment. However, genomic DNA sequencing of the specific isolate of Bacillus subtilis disocovered within the Post and Brokaw anthrax powders reveals that is is genetically distinct from the other known isolates of Bacillus subtilis. Analyses of the Bacillus subtilis from both the Post and the Brokaw envelopes revealed that these two isolates were identical.


    The Bacillus subtilis contaminant is not detected in RMR-1029 by phenotypic or genetic analyses. It is not know known how the Bacillus subtilis contaminant came to be in the Post and Brokaw spore powders. Since the contaminant is not found in RMR-1029 and not found in the spore material mailed to Senators Leahy and Daschle, it is reasonable to conclude that the contaminant was introduced during the growth process of the evidentiary material. Taken together, the presence of the Bacillus subtilis contaminant, and the phenotypic differences of the evidentiary spore powders, it is presumed that, on two separate occasions, a sample of RMR-1029 was used to grow spores, dried to a powder, packaged in an envelope with a threat letter, and mailed to the victims.

    In November of 2006, upon consent provided by USAMRIID Command, strains of Bacillus subtilis, were collected from Dr. Ivins stock collection. All of the collected samples compared negatively to the Bacillus subtilis contaminant isolated from the Post and Brokaw envelopes. In June of 2007, upon consent provided by USAMRIID Command, environmental samples were collected _____ space and equipment; but, ultimately compared negatively to the evidentiary Bacillus subtilis contaminant.”

    • DXer said

      They don’t mention whether a search was conducted at the Science Briefing. And so the statement in the comment stands uncontradicted by anything I find in the record. Dugway should also be swabbed for the subtilis.

      DR. MAJIDI: No. Again, you know, the bacillus contamination showed up in one batch, not in the other one, and it really didn’t drive us any place specific.

      QUESTION: It didn’t show up in any of the eight matches, any of those samples?

      DR. MAJIDI: Pardon?

      QUESTION: So the stuff from the letter that matched eight samples — none of those had bacillus —

      DR. MAJIDI: No. No.

  13. DXer said

    I am still looking for confirmation of the identity of the two lab techs — the junior lab tech and senior lab tech — who made a large amount of Ames spores that they thought was going to be added to RMR-1029. (see pp. 27 or 28 or Amerithrax Investigation Summary and fn. 10).

    The junior lab tech though she had been hired specifically for that purpose.

    The FBI cannot find the spores.

    Why is it that Dugway has a lockdown when a teeny bit of VX is misplaced but the large amount of missing Ames is relegated to footnote status by the FBI?

    And why is it that we were first told of it in February 2010 — a long while after they announced that the genetics proved the case against Dr. Ivins. (Okay, I get it, the investigation was still ongoing).

    But given the discussion then went private at NAS, I think outside observers might give themselves a heads-up on the potential critical importance of this missing Ames to the morph analysis and to the FBI’s entire narrative (e.g., false sample).

    On top of it all in October 2010 there are errata that are issued that go to the core validity of their genetic analysis.

    Then 500 pages are produced.

    I think maybe the FBI should address — with clarity — the large amount of Ames made by Dr. Ivins’ lab techs that is missing. Wouldn’t that explain the genetic anomalies? … to include why the April 2002 submission turned up no morphs and why UNM was not a match and Battelle had only 3.

    That is, if it was added to RMR-1029 as planned, and it had no morphs because it came from frozen stock and the single colony pick method was used, wouldn’t that lead to a confounding mixture? That would throw all statistics off that started with a different premise? Why would the lab techs use frozen stock as the parent material rather than RMR-1029 if it was to be added to the reference sample? Does that make any sense? Where is the contemporary documentary evidence that was done?
    Oh yeah, the lab notebooks being withheld.
    But to avoid me introducing any error, how many morphs did UNM have? How many morphs did Battelle have?

    Here is the blockbuster understated passage from the Amerithrax Investigation Summary in February 2010 that has gone unnoticed:

    “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 RMR-1029. His junior lab technician 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 technican, 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 [1997]

    Weren’t the lab techs Former Colleague #1 and Former Colleague #2, who were thanked by the former Zawahiri associate for providing virulent Ames in connection with the time he visited the Ft. Detrick BL-3 to do the DARPA-funded work?

    Don’t we want to hear from Mara and Pat on these issues? I’ll email if anyone has their address.

  14. DXer said

    In the overnight shutdown of Dugway, one woman on base went into labor and gave birth to a baby. Much love and best wishes to the newborn child!

    • DXer said

      Let’s hope Dugway doesn’t misplace those vials of VX nerve gas as often as I misplace my car keys.

      • DXer said

        Missing vial of nerve agent triggers Dugway shutdown


        An overnight lockdown, triggered when vial of the deadly VX nerve agent went temporarily missing, was lifted early Thursday morning at Utah’s sprawling, 801,000-acre Dugway Proving Ground.

        Officials at the remote Army installation, 90 miles southwest of Salt Lake City in Utah’s western desert, abruptly ordered gates closed at 5:24 p.m. Wednesday. Up to 1,500 employees of Dugway — military personnel, contractors and civilian workers — were forced to stay the night.

        Dugway spokeswoman Paula Nicholson said Thursday that the lockdown was ordered after a “routine inventory of sensitive material in the chemical laboratory. . . discovered a discrepancy between the records and the agent on-hand. As a precaution, the commander immediately locked down the installation and began efforts to identify the cause of the discrepancy. “

        The vial was located, uncompromised, at 3 a.m. Thursday within the facility. Dugway officials did not specify exactly where the vial, containing less than 1 milliliter, or roughly a quarter-teaspoon of the agent, was found — nor did they detail how the vial had gone missing in the first place, or whether anyone was being disciplined as a result of the incident.

  15. DXer said

    Don’t we know that Dr. Ivins did not make it given the Silicon Signature?

    Dr. Serge Popov credits as right on the mark, Dr. Hugh-Jones’ learned comment to the NAS which explains:

    3. Silicon content

    Evidence regarding the Silicon marker has been inconsistent, contradictory and confusing. Some landmarks in this ongoing story are listed here, in the chronological order in which they entered the public domain.

    • Major General John S. Parker, Commander of Fort Detrick, said at a White House briefing on October 29, 2001 that there is no Aluminum [indicator of bentonite] in the spores from the Daschle and NY Post letters, as shown by very high energy X-ray studies. Asked then if that suggests that there was no additive to make the spores more easily aerosolized, he answered: “Complicated question. We do know that we found silica in the samples,” but we don’t know why it would be there.[1]

    • The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), which had performed the energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry on the Daschle spores in October 2001, published a comment about a year later by AFIP Principal Deputy Director Florabel Mullick, who said silica “was a key component. Silica prevents the anthrax from aggregating, making it easier to aerosolize.” [2] The AFIP data itself did not become publicly available until April 2010 (see below).

    · Gen. Parker testified on October 31, 2001 that USAMRIID had examined the Daschle spores by Transmission Electron Microscopy and found them to be “comprised solely of spores without debris or vegetative forms, suggesting this material was refined or processed.” Scanning Electron Microscopy analysis “revealed particle aggregates of varying sizes comprised solely of spores without a visible binding matrix” …”Spores within the aggregates were uniform in appearance. The aggregates had a propensity to pulverize.”[3]

    · Gen. Parker also said on Oct. 31 that USAMRIID had at first reported to the FBI that the Daschle spores had some attributes consistent with “weaponized” anthrax; but they then “revisited the term ‘weaponized’ and decided the terms ‘professionally done’ and ‘energetic’ as more appropriate descriptions in lieu of any real familiarity with weaponized materials.”[4]

    · Experts like John Ezzell, Peter Jarling and Thomas Geisbert of USAMRIID, Jeff Mohr of Dugway, and Bill Patrick of the former US bioweapons program made early statements that the attack spores contained silica or were weaponized, but later reversed their positions.[5] Scientists at Dugway, USAMRIID, and perhaps elsewhere were asked to sign statements not to talk about the anthrax.[6] Ken Alibek and Matthew Meselson were shown some electron micrographs and saw no silica particles.[7]

    · “Law enforcement officials”[8] and “a high-ranking government official”[9] told the media in April 2002 that an unusual chemical, unlike any that had been used in biological weapons, was found in the letter anthrax.

    • Gary Matsumoto, in an article published in Science in November 2003,[10] said the Senate anthrax spores contained “polymerized glass,” a silane or siloxane compound that “leaves a thin glassy coating that helps bind silica particles to the spore surface.” This information was provided by US intelligence officers to biodefense officials of two NATO countries, Matsumoto wrote. Richard Spertzel (former Deputy Commander of USAMRIID and Senior Biologist of the UN Special Commission for Iraq) later wrote that he had learned from one of his former weapons inspectors that the FBI had briefed the German Foreign Ministry on the presence of a polyglass in the spores.[11]

    · Dwight Adams, the chief FBI scientist, stated at a private FBI briefing of Senators Daschle and Leahy in late 2002 that the letter anthrax contained no additives, but did contain Silicon which occurred naturally in the spore coat (not on the surface).[12]

    • Dwight Adams later stated in a sworn deposition on January 11, 2006 that scientific information obtained by the FBI about the letter anthrax is too sensitive to reveal to either the public or the Senate, Congress or their staff.[13]

    • The Amerithrax investigation seemed to have run out of steam in the fall of 2006; Richard Lambert, the FBI’s lead investigator on the anthrax case for four years, was transferred to head the FBI office in Knoxville, TN;[14] and Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security Secretary, said, in reference to the anthrax case, “There are times that we may know a lot about a crime or an event that occurred, but we may not have the admissible evidence that we need to prove it in court.”[15]

    • The FBI published a scientific article[16] in late 2006 that was called by the Washington Post[17] “the most expansive public comment on the nature of the powder [in the anthrax letters] by any FBI official.” The article signaled a new approach to the anthrax case by the FBI. The article is actually a technical description of the procedures used to search bags of Congressional mail for possible additional anthrax letters, following the receipt of the anthrax letter addressed to Senator Daschle; it contains no data about the origin, preparation or composition of the anthrax in the Senate letters. But it does contain a carefully-worded paragraph in the “Discussion” section implying that the attack anthrax consisted simply of spores, without additives, and were not weaponized. The FBI, including the author of the article, refused to comment on the article.[18]

    • Kay Mereish, the Chief of Biological Planning and Operations at the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), wrote to the editor of the journal that published the FBI article, saying that the article provided no data or references to support the article’s implications, and no evidence that could be used for judging the quality of the spores, the presence or absence of additives or the method of production. [19] The editor invited Beecher, the FBI author, to respond to Mereish’s comment but he refused.

    • Mereish, in her letter cited above, referred to a scientific meeting in September 2006 at which she heard a talk by a scientist who had worked under government contract on samples of the attack anthrax spores.[20] According to Mereish, the speaker described the spores as “uncoated, but containing an additive that affected the spores’ electrical charges.”

    • The FBI’s science briefing, in August 18, 2008, stated that the attack spores contained no additives; that Silicon and Oxygen [ratio not given] were both present, but in the spore coat, not on the outer surface of the spore, and that their presence was a natural occurrence. In answer to a question, the FBI spokesman said the weight percent of Si in the attack anthrax was high, but he would not specify.[21] Later, in response to pressure from Congress, the FBI said that the spores in the Leahy letter contained 1.4% Si by weight.

    • Dr. D. Christian Hassell of the FBI confirmed in 2009 that the Leahy spores contained 1.45% Si.[22]

    • The FBI and others have not been able to achieve such high Si incorporation, including through growth of anthrax in Si-containing media—the mechanism of incorporation postulated by the FBI.[23] Furthermore, there is no evidence that USAMRIID or any of its staff may have had the ability to produce spores with such high levels of Silicon.

    • Sandia National Laboratory presented studies on Si in the attack anthrax to the NAS Committee in 2009,[24] demonstrating that Si in the attack spores from the Leahy, Daschle and NY Post letters is located on the spore coat, not on the outer surface.

    • Sandia also found the same wt% Si, within the error, in anthrax spores from the Leahy (1.2 – 2.3 wt% ±50%) and NY Post (1.2 – 1.5 wt% ±50%) letters. They give no data on wt% Si in samples from other sources. The percentage of spores containing (any) Si is about the same in the Leahy, Daschle and NY Post samples (76, 66 and 65%) but much lower in other samples studied.

    • AFIP’s energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDS)/scanning electron microscopy (SEM) studies from 25-26 October 2001, performed on the attack powders as they were obtained straight from the envelopes, finally became available in April, 2010. The AFIP data show that the Si signal, but not the Oxygen signal, in the NY Post sample was much higher than that in the Daschle sample, indicating a much higher wt% Si in the NY Post sample. The AFIP data include multiple EDS traces for both the Daschle and NY Post powders, taken from multiple spots on the samples. Simulations of AFIP’s EDS spectra performed by one of us (SJ) using software[25] from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) indicate 3-5% silicon content in the Daschle powder and 30-40% silicon content in the NY Post powder (data attached below). This would suggest that the spores in the two letters were from separate treatments or preparations. Based on their data it is not surprising that AFIP concluded that silica had been deliberately added to the powders. It was only after Sandia utilized transmission SEM on thin sections, to determine the location of Si in the spores, that the presence of fumed silica particles–which would manifest themselves as individual particles on the outside of the spores (the exosporium)–could be ruled out definitively. However, 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.[26] Additional studies, including Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, could be performed to test for the presence of a polymer of a silane or siloxane compound.

    • Dr. Majidi of the FBI, at the Aug. 18, 2008 briefing, said that in efforts to reverse-engineer the attack anthrax “we were able to repeat almost everything except the Silicon signal.” Asked later whether they were “able to replicate the powder—the aerosol?” he replied, “Well, we never aerosolized it, you know.” Another official then interrupted to say it would be a misconception to believe that simple spore preparations are not very dangerous…[27]

    • Dr. Hassell, during questioning of Dr. Majidi about the procedures used to make a fine powder, interrupted to say “You got to understand, there are some national security implications if we give you all the details of the many possible ways to do this. So if we’re hedging a little bit, that’s—“[28] This suggests that some critical details about the attack spores are being withheld.

    • The following pages illustrate spectra obtained by AFIP for the Daschle and NY Post powders, simulations of the spectra obtained by author SJ using NIST software, and his calculation of the weight% Silicon in each sample, based on the simulated spectra.

    [1] Maj. Gen. John S. Parker, Commander of Fort Detrick and of the US Military Research and Materiel Command, transcript of White House Press Briefing by Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge et al, 11:52 am EST, October 29, 2001; San Francisco Chronicle, “Silica grains detected in anthrax letter are tiny clues,” October 30, 2001.
    [2] The AFIP Letter, “Detecting Environmental Terrorism: AFIP’s Department of Environmental and Toxicologic Pathology provides critical DoD, Homeland Defense programs,” August/October 2002.
    [3] Maj. Gen. John S. Parker, testimony to the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and the Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation and Federal Service, “Terrorism through the Mail: Protecting the Postal Workers and the Public,” October 31, 2001.
    [4] ibid.
    [5] See, for example: Los Angeles Times, “Scientist concedes ‘honest mistake’ about weaponized anthrax: Peter B. Jahrling, who aided the federal probe of the 2001 mailings, says he erred when he told White House officials that material he examined probably had been altered to make it more deadly,” September 16, 2008. In October 2001, Jahrling had observed the letter spores by electron microscopy at USAMRIID and reported signs that silicon had been added.
    [6] Re USAMRIID:; re Dugway: J. Mohr, in documentary film Anthrax War (
    [7] M. Meselson and K. Alibek, Letter to the Editor “Anthrax Under The Microscope,” Washington Post, November 5, 2002.
    [8] Washington Post, “Powder used in anthrax attacks was not routine,” April 9, 2002.
    [9], “Official: Unusual coating in anthrax mailings,” posted 7:55 am EDT, April 11, 2002.
    [10] G. Matsumoto, “Anthrax Powder: State of the Art?” Science 302, 1492, November 28, 2003.
    [11] The Wall Street Journal, “Bruce Ivins Wasn’t the Anthrax Culprit,” Oped by Richard Spertzel, August 5, 2008).
    [12] Information about the briefing was later reported by Matsumoto, who obtained it from “sources on Capitol Hill” (G. Matsumoto, op. cit.). This was evidently the leak from “Congressional sources” referred to by the Assistant Director of the FBI’s Office of Congressional Affairs, in a 2006 letter refusing to provide further classified briefings to Congress on the progress of the anthrax investigation, because of past leaks (letter from Eleni P. Kalisch to Rep. Rush Holt, September 28, 2006, quoted in Rep. Holt’s letter to Rep. S. Reyes, Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, March 2, 2007.
    [13] Dwight E. Adams, Deposition made in the Hatfill vs Ashcroft et al. lawsuit, under questioning by Hatfill’s lawyer Thomas Connolly, January 11, 2006. The full name of the lawsuit is Hatfill vs. John Ashcroft, US Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Timothy Beres [DOJ employee], Daryl Darnell [DOJ employee], Van Harp [FBI supervisory Special Agent], and All Unknown
    Agents/Employees, Case # 1:03-cv-01793-RBW, filed 8/26/2003 in US District Court, District of Columbia, assigned to Judge Reggie B. Walton. The case was subsequently settled.
    [14] Los Angeles Times, “Many fear FBI’s anthrax case is cold: Its investigation into the deadly 2001 attacks seems to be making no progress, but the agency urges patience,” November 3, 2006.
    [15] CBS News, “Anthrax Investigation a “Cold Case?” September 18, 2006.
    [16] Douglas J. Beecher, “Forensic application of microbiological culture analysis to identify mail intentionally contaminated with Bacillus anthracis spores,” Applied and Environmental Microbiology 72, 5304, August 2006.
    [17] Washington Post, “FBI is casting a wider net in anthrax attacks,” September 25, 2006.
    [18] Hartford Courant, “New anthrax theory offered: FBI scientist says little expertise needed,” September 22, 2006; Washington Post, September ,2, 2006, op. cit.; New York Times, “Anthrax not weapons grade, official says,” September 26, 2006.
    [19] K. Mereish, “Letter to the Editor: Unsupported Conclusions on the Bacillus anthracis Spores,” Applied and Environmental Microbiology 73, 5074, August 2007.
    [20] The Mereish letter gives the following information about the speaker and meeting: “D. Small, CBRN Counter-Proliferation and Response, Paris, France, 18-20 September 2006, organized by SMi [ ].”
    [21] FBI Science Briefing, August 18, 2008 (op. cit.).
    [22] D. Christian Hassell (op. cit.).
    [23] FBI Science Briefing, August 18, 2009 (op. cit.); also, publicly-available presentation by Weber et al. of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory to the NAS Committee, September 25, 2009.
    [24] Publicly available presentation by Michael and Kotula of Sandia to the NAS Committee, September 2009.
    [25] NIST DTSA-II software for simulations was obtained from
    [26] P. Gerhardt and S. Black, J. Bacteriol. 82 (5), 750-760.
    [27] FBI Science Briefing, August 18, 2008 (op. cit.)
    [28] op. cit.

    • Roberto said

      I think you *could* draw that conclusion (that Ivins couldn’t have made it if you account for the Si), but unless there is a better understanding of exactly how the stuff was made I don’t know how solid this conclusion is. But still, there it is, Si in the mix – they’d have to prove how Ivins got it in there before they can keep prove him as villain (for me anyway).

      They’d also need to prove how the B. Subt got in there as well. The B. Subt, to my mind, is just as significant as the Ba n terms of tracking the letters’ origins… was there no equivalent genetic “marker” testing done to find the origins of the Bs? or is that stuff so common it would be too great a proposition… or did they quit digging when they hit paydirt?

      With regard to weaponization: to be or not to be… I think there is more to consider than just its physical properties and it’s resistance to antibiotics. If a bio-agent is used as a strategic weapon, then I’m calling it weaponized.

      Yes, it’s true, that only a limited number of people died or were made sick. But it’s also true that there was only a very limited quantity of anthrax sent (less than a quarter of a cup?), it was never ‘released’, and it was thankfully resistant to antibiotics. But it closed down buildings for years & did economic damage in the billions, did it not? Take that same anthrax, make it in a much larger quantity, release it outside in a densely populated area on a windy day after making it resistant to all known antibiotics. Then what are you calling it?

      So sure, the stuff that was sent may not have been ‘weaponized’ and all insinuations that it was have been downplayed.,8599,179760,00.html
      That’s fine. It’s probably true. But it’s also true that to admit there was a strategic weapon demonstrated on US soil would be as if someone tested an atomic bomb here. Nobody would want to admit that either, because as Dick Cheney said we’re not prepared to do anything about it.

      • DXer said

        Did the FBI not specifically say that the all the places were tested for subtilis and none was found? So, for example, as for Battelle, it was searched for subtilis and none was found.

        Contamination of the anthrax spores in some of the attack
        letters by a genetically distinct strain of

        • Roberto said

          They would start by checking where Bs *is* found… just like they did with the anthrax!

        • BugMaster said

          Bacillis subtilis is everywhere.

          So how many soil samples from Ohio did they evaluate?

          There is a simple solution. The FBI should deposit the strain with the ATCC. It isn’t a pathogen, so it would be a BLS-1 organism. The actual genetic makeup of the contaminant should by no means be considered classified (unless someone has something to hide).

          Once the strain is available to the public (with the restrictions already in place regarding obtaining material from the ATCC, of course) any future bioprospectors or anyone with the means and the interest (university students, etc.) can obtain the strain, do genetic analysis, and compare the results with any b. subtilis they have obtained (soil samples, etc).

          The FBI should be more than willing to do so here, they should be downright ecstatic about having a means to obtain additional evidence, with no additional expense on their part. Eventually, more findings regarding the geographic distribution of strains similar to the contaminant will provide more information about the attacks, and because the FBI’s case is so solid, provide the actual physical evidence they are at this point lacking.

          I can even propose a name for the strain:

          b. subtilis var. majidi!

          Dedicated to all scientists who understand the importance of questioning a given investigational approach!

          And those that feel Ivins is innocent, perhaps amongst those individuals, they could put together a prize money pool to be awarded to the first individual or organization who finds the critter!

        • DXer said

          I am hearing good things from top scientists about this comment.

          I understand that one oft-quoted scientist in the field find the subtilis point thought-provoking.

          So maybe I am mistaken that the FBI swabbed Battelle for subtilis.

          I just assume that they would.

          But I’ll go to the record and look for any evidence that they did and look to see precisely what the spokespersons have said about subtilis.

        • Roberto said

          Seems to my mind to be a more scientific approach than handwriting analysis, psychoanalysis or polygraph exams.

        • BugMaster said

          Could the FBI be compelled to deposit the majidi strain with the ATCC through freedom of information act proceedings?

        • DXer said

          Have you read the literature on the strain?

        • Roberto said

          or Being Under the siLLy impresSion tHat codes are
          In The anthrax letter message.

        • Roberto said

          Other than descriptions in the media of the subtilis as a contaminant, I’ve not seen much of anything about it. But I know that examining it better, from a scientific standpoint than Being Under the siLLy impresSion tHat codes are

          In The message.

        • BugMaster said

          Making the strain available through the ATCC would also be a reasonable recommendation for the NAS to make.

  16. DXer said

    Mystery emergency triggers Dugway lockdown

    The Salt Lake Tribune

    First published 30 minutes ago
    Updated 3 minutes ago
    An overnight lockdown at the sprawling, 801,000-acre Dugway Proving Ground was lifted early Thursday morning.

    Officials at the remote Army installation, 90 miles southwest of Salt Lake City in Utah’s western desert, remained tight-lipped about why they ordered gates closed at 5:24 p.m. Wednesday. Some 1,500 employees of Dugway reportedly were forced to stay the night.

    Dugway spokesman Al Vogel would not detail reasons for the shutdown, but did stress that no damages or injuries were reported, and no threats received. The installation does house small amounts of chemical and biological warfare agents for defense testing purposes, and Dugway also is a prime Army base for testing of an array of conventional military weaponry and ammunition.

    Comment: Given that the FBI could not find all the anthrax made by Dr. Bruce Ivins’ lab technicians, and just assumes it is not a genetic match with the attack anthrax, someone should look for it at Dugway. A large unspecified amount was missing.

    The lab techs assumed it was going to be added to RMR-1029. Consider this hypothesis: It was added even though Bruce did not keep the record. And that adding to the Flask 1029 caused a mixture of Ames in the RMR-1029, accounting for why UNM was not a genetic match. And that would also explain a variation with the Battelle sample. And so that leaves open the question of where the large amount of Ames made by the lab techs went. It would also explain why the Spring 2002 sample showed no morphs. It might even explain the 100 ml discrepancy and the careful whiting out of the location it was stored. Was the same ink used for all the entries when it would be typical that the pens over years varied? Was the RMR 1029 inventory a rushed re-do?

    So instead of 1000 ml being distributed, consider that the total was something like 1500 ml. The lab techs said they never saw the flasks used for storage. So supply goes up to 1500 ml., causing variability in the morphs (explaining the Spring 2002 sample anomaly and the UNM anomaly)… and then 500 ml walks away. Except consider the hypothesis that Dr. Ivins neither processed nor mailed the letters or was complicitous in doing so. (I find the FBI’s Ivins Theory is plausible but that’s all — and plausibility doesn’t cut it under the circumstances).

    None of the transfers physically made at USAMRIID were recorded — why should it be any different for an extra 500 ml? Except that after the mailings maybe Bruce realized there wasn’t appropriate authorization to make the transfer.

    How is it possible that the 16 pages about the non-citizen former Zawahiri associate to work with Bruce in the BL-3 does not get transmitted to the FBI until February 2005? Who dropped the ball?

    I know when I submitted a FOIA to University of Michigan they said they had no records. Is that the same response they gave when LSU and University of Michigan were subpoenaed in Fall 2001?

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