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

* According to former co-worker of Ivins and former USAMRIID microbacteriologist Henry Heine, the science doesn’t seem to support Ivins’ guilt

Posted by DXer on February 4, 2011

Dr. Bruce Ivins


According to former co-worker of Ivins

and former USAMRIID microbacteriologist Henry Heine,

the science doesn’t seem to support Ivins’ guilt

  • Heine told the panel that the most common way of growing bacteria at USAMRIID is in flasks.
    • Based on the number of envelopes mailed out (eight to 10), the concentration of spores in the powder (10 to the 12th power spores per gram) and the number of grams of anthrax per envelope (1 to 2 grams), he calculated there were at least 10 to the 13th power anthrax spores in the attacks. Under ideal conditions, growing anthrax in a flask could produce only 10 to the 11th power spores — one hundredth of the total needed.
  • …The committee also asked Heine how the anthrax could have been dried into a powder.
    • He replied that the FBI had asked him the same question in October 2001, and he said then and still thinks a lyophilizer would be the simplest way to dry large quantities of spores.
    • But “the idea of lyophilizing this actually scares the hell out of me, this material is so fine.” It would have contaminated the whole room when the air and moisture was vacuumed out, he said.
    • He said the lyophilizer at USAMRIID was not in the containment area, and if it had been used to prepare anthrax there would have been a trail of dead animals and people leading investigators to it.
    • USAMRIID had a speed-vac that someone could have used, but that would dry only 30 to 40 milliliters at a time.
    • Heine told the FBI the only other way he could think to dry the anthrax would be to use acetone, which would pull out the water.
    • “I have no idea what that would do to the spores and whether they’d still be viable,” he said, adding there would likely be evidence that acetone was used.
  • Add to that some investigatory bungling:
    • He said the whole investigation was filled with lies.
    • Officials told different USAMRIID researchers their co-workers accused them of committing the attacks, just to see their reaction.
    • They searched his vacation house and car without warrants.
    • They misled him about the questions they would ask him in front of a grand jury.
    • And they tried to get him to seek a restraining order against Ivins, only days before he committed suicide, by saying Ivins had threatened to kill Heine during a group therapy session.

“At least among my closest colleagues,

nobody believes Bruce did this.”

Heine thinks the FBI went after Ivins because “personality-wise,

he was the weakest link.”


CASE CLOSED is a novel

about the FBI’s failed investigation

of the 2001 anthrax attacks


read the opening scene of CASE CLOSED …

* CASE CLOSED – opening scene … the DIA re-investigates the FBI’s failed case


* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

18 Responses to “* According to former co-worker of Ivins and former USAMRIID microbacteriologist Henry Heine, the science doesn’t seem to support Ivins’ guilt”

  1. DXer said

    Now on this question whether the FBI agents acted appropriately, I’m not saying we should treat these earnest investigators, who face a very difficult analytical challenge, disrespectfully.

    In particular, they don’t like being mooned.

    Mark Kortepeter wrote in his new book, INSIDE THE HOT ZONE:

    “Feeling pressure from the constant scrutiny, some tried to fight back in subtle and not so subtle ways. Hank Heine had a farm in West Virginia on a ridge with surrounding ridges and valleys. He and his USAMRIID buddies would go out there a couple of times a year for target practice. They called themselves the “Bacti Militia.”

    “Every time we were there,” Hank said, “two or three black Suburbans would come pulling out on that other ridge, and the guys would get out with binoculars and watch us.” Hank exhibits a balance of cynicism and Family Guy /South Park sense of humor. At one point he and his buddies dropped their trousers and mooned the agents.

    The next week when he was called in for questioning, the agents told him, “We didn’t find that very funny.” Hank played dumb and responded, “You didn’t find what funny?” “You know exactly what we’re talking about,” they insisted. “Oh,” said Hank, “you mean you guys were watching us while I was up at the farm?” Hank chuckled as he recalled the meeting, but at the time, he said, having a little gallows humor helped them all to cope.”

  2. DXer said

    Graeme McQueen in his highly political book “2001 Anthrax Deception” (Clarity, 2014) writes at page 98:

    “Doubts about the time required to prepare the anthrax spores were also expressed by other researchers. In an interview with ProPublica, Dr. Henry Heine, a former supervisor of Ivins at USAMRIID, said that the period in Ivins’ schedule identified by the FBI as his opportunity to prepare the spores (the “34 more hours in the B3 suite than his combined total for the previous seven months”) was completely inadequate for the task the FBI alleges he was performing. The 34 hours, Heine said, are “more than 8,000 hours (close to a year) short of what he would have needed to grow the anthrax. ”94 Heine added that it would have been impossible for Ivins to have prepared the anthrax without his colleagues being aware of it.

    What, then, is the state of the DOJ’s case against Ivins today? The official position of the Department and its investigative agency, the FBI, is that Ivins was the anthrax killer. The case is closed. But not only have many scientists expressed skepticism, so have several important elected officials.95 The fact that these doubts are discussed openly in the mainstream media indicates that the standing of the DOJ’s case in the courts of expert and public opinion is extremely low.96 The much discussed “600,000 investigator work hours” and “in excess of 10,000 witness interviews” that the FBI claims to have invested in this case97 have resulted, 13 years after the attacks, in a case without credibility.”

  3. DXer said

    Absent more information on forensics or evidence, we can suspend judgment in this Minnesota case.

    27 terrorism charges for Pine County courthouse mailings
    Posted: Dec 16, 2013 2:38 PM EST

    Read more: Pine County man won’t confess to creating white powder – KMSP-TV

    It is way too easy to rely on profiling rather than direct evidence. If Johnnie is guilty, there will be evidence galore revealed in due course.

    The issue of profiling in Amerithrax was discussed by Henry Heine in his February 16, 2011 WFMD interview by Bob Miller — about a year after his first interview.

    At 2:20, HH explains that the NAS review related to the science. The FBI had pointed to the science as the lynchpin of its case.

    HH explains that HH addressed only the science — they were not applying the science to the facts as it related to Bruce Ivins.

    HH refers to all the science questions he repeatedly raised to the FBI that they didn’t have answers for.

    At 4:42 Mr. Miller raises the issue of equipment again.

    HH says that the FBI went back and forth on it but HH says at RIID it took weeks upon weeks to make what was needed just for their normal experiments.

    HH says with a huge fermenter one could do it but one still needs to harvest it and get rid of all that volume.

    HH says “They profile, they profile. And Bruce was the easiest one of us for them to profile.”

    “There’s just no way Bruce had anything to do with this.”

    “I think Bruce was the sixth victim.”

    “The FBI basically drove him to death.”

    Referring to Dr. Ivins’ family, he says, “My heart goes to them. I can’t imagine what they’ve gone through. I really hope they can get some justice and some peace with this.”

    HH blames the Justice Department even more than the FBI.

    “One of the things they did was to create the air that we were all pointing the finger at each other.”

    He says he has to keep his theories — as to who did it — to himself.

    He thinks that the biggest crime the FBI did was in accusing Bruce but another crime was that the person who did it is still running around loose.

    • DXer said

      In a second interview held April 21, 2010, two months after his first three-part interview in February 2010, Dr, Heine emphasizes at 13:55 there are missing FBI interviews that have not been disclosed. This is an extremely important issue for the GAO to pursue.

      The early interviews from late October 2001 — a little over a year or a year and a couple of months that are completely omitted from what was released.

      He discusses the silicone issue and the work they were doing in Building 1412 after about 17.00 mark. The FBI wanted to know what happened to those samples.

      One of the questions in the FBI polygraph was is there anything in your past that you could ever be blackmailed about. They asked the question about 7 times.

      HH explained he worked at USAMRIID for 11 years. Now he is in Albany NY working for a nonprofit doing essentially the same work.

      For the last 5 years leading up to his death, Dr. Ivins had picked up about 50% of his salary from Dr. Heine’s projects.

      “Bruce could not have done this” both in terms of the Bruce Ivins Dr. Heine knew but also his scientific skill set.

      With regard to his earlier interview on his last day at USAMRIID, he was outprocessed in record speed.

      “Strictly speaking, as an employee he was not supposed to talk.”

      “Bruce was the weakest link.”

      “His personality and demeanor were such that he would be more victim to this sort of harassment and pressure.”

      “I’m able to put names to all the interviews I now know who the judases are as well .. if listening you know who you are.”

      “They were under a similar kind of harassment, everyone was trying to get out from that pressure…”

      He explained that it’s hard to read the FBI interviews with all the blank outs (redactions). You have to be someone who worked there and the context who can fill in the blanks — and who can figure out who the people were and so forth.

      “They supposedly have closed the case.”

      “It’s been a one-sided presentation without any sort of cross-examination of the evidence or the data.”

      “I read [the interviews of Ivins] and it just broke my heart. For example they were questioning him about the women’s underwear and all this other kinda stuff.”

      “I didn’t need to know that. I wish I had never heard about it. None of us are perfect. If someone digs deep enough they can find some kind of skeleton. Maybe Bruce had more than most of us.”

      Bruce was fragile anyway. “I could read it in the interviews and I observed it. They broke him.”

      “Most everyone has something that they would rather not be public…. I think we all do.”

      One of the questions in the FBI polygraph was is there anything in your past that you could ever be blackmailed about. They asked the question about 7 times.

      HH would chuckle every time the question came around. The FBI asked him why he thought the question was funny. So he told him that he would have to go ask his friend.

      His friend explained to the FBI that Hank is not embarrassed by anything.

      The GAO should obtain a copy of the questions and answers to Bruce Ivins polygraph. A Fall 2001 Q and A is precious.

      Relatedly, Dr. Heine says there are missing FBI interviews that have not been disclosed. This is an extremely important issue for the GAO to pursue.

      The early interviews from late October 2001 — a little over a year or a year and a couple of months that are completely omitted from what was released.

      On the the silica signature, the FBI was very focused:

      Did you introduce silicone? Why was that done? What happened to those samples?

      Thus, for the FBI to fail to realize that there was access to the genetically matching virulent Ames in Building 1412 was very possibly a critical mistake.

      • DXer said

        At the 20.00 mark at the April 21, 2010 interview, HH says

        “I still believe that whoever did this is still out there and got away with it. That means it could be done again. We really need to get to the bottom of it and really get this thing cleaned up and find out who did it…”

        He says that some of his colleagues have been told to keep quiet — told that they could lose funding for research etc.

        “They said ‘yeah, I got pressure….”

        He says that there are investigative reporters who are always digging, there will be always someone who leaks something…

        He says “There are no secrets in Washington.”

        [And of course that’s especially true if a court reporter or paralegal uses an ineffective redaction tool and method that can just be undone by some curious investigative reporter.]

        Short version: In his email and IM correspondence, Yazid Sufaat does not deny to me his responsibility for the mailings. He is just too shy to implicate Adnan El-Shukrijumah, Dr. Ayman Zawahiri and his colleagues. As he put its, the CIA is not going to hear it from his mouth. Let’s see if we learn anything in the course of that ongoing prosecution of Yazid involving the two young angry men going to Syria.

  4. DXer said

    For GAO:

    There were two or 3 speed vacs in the Division, a BSL-2 lyophilizer, two BSL-3 pass-through autoclaves, and at least two cold-side common autoclaves that other Divisions used as well.

    Which speed-vacs or autoclaves had logs and which didn’t?

  5. DXer said

    4/17/2003 302

    “The only lyophilizer at USAMRIID that IVINS had any knowledge of is located in Suite B5. This lyophilizer is a Virtis and it went straight to B5 after it was received at USAMRIID. It has never been outside of the Biosafety Level (BSL) 2 lab space.”


    1. How much does the Virtis in Building 1425 that was located in the BL2 area weigh? Was it on wheels? What model was it?

    2. What lyophilizer did Dr. Ezzell, the FBI’s anthrax expert, use in Building 1412 to make the dried powder out of the Ames supplied from Flask 1029?

    Where was that lyophilizer located?

  6. DXer said


    Dugway Proving Grounds (DPG)

    “The 300 blood agar plates to be used in the BA Ames production process were received by DPG on 12/31/02. Ninety-nine (99) plates were inoculated on 01/02/03. Harvest of BA Ames began on 01/07/03. The inoculation of a second set of 99 plates is schueduled to being o 01/08/03. A site visit is tenatively schedule for end of January to meet with DPG scientists to discuss the details of the various production methods.”

    • Anonymous said

      Mythbusters could have done a better job in determining how long it takes one person to prepare, purify, dry and place in envelopes 10-20g of spores.

      • Anonymous said

        “Where do you get these preposterous numbers from? A random number generator?”

        I see you have looked out your old playbook of BS and are writing nonsense – as usual. NAS estimated the total number of spores sent through the mail to be between 3 and 5 grams. That’s dry spores that made it to the envelopes. Obviously you haven’t read the NAS report.

        NAS acknowledges that there would be severe losses in purifaction and drying steps … that means that if you have 1 gram of wet spores in a flask it is impossible to then obtain that entire 1 gram in a dry form and place it an envelope to be mailed.

        Thus the perp had to have made from 10-20 g of spores in the first place.

      • BugMaster said


        When you are dealing with numbers in the trillions, one doesn’t concern onself with a 2X difference.

        I know that as a layperson, this makes no sense whatsoever.

        But to a microbiologist:

        1 trillion = 2 trillion

        1 trillion vs 4 trillion?

        A gray area.

        1 trillion DOES NOT EQUAL 10 trillion.

        When dealing with numbers such as these, and the uncertainty in obtaining such numbers, orders of magnitude, or perhaps half an order of magnitude is significant.

        2X don’t mean shit!

    • Old Atlantic said

      These runs of 100 plates for 5 days were presumably about their maximum capacity. It looks like it was taking time to prepare them and harvest them. They did two runs back to back scheduled here. This is presumably because the actual yield was random and could be low, and because the best yield was still small compared to what had been in RMR-1029 and took so much work to grow including the fermentor runs at Dugway.

      • DXer said

        I don’t have the quote in front of me but Dugway said it would take about a month to grow the spores they needed to do their study.

  7. DXer said

    The NAS report states:

    “The FBI did not present a definite theory on how and when propagation, purification, and
    drying took place, nor on what specific skills would be required to perform these tasks.
    Nonetheless, inferences made by the FBI concerning the time, skill, and equipment required for
    spore preparation were said to be significant considerations in its narrowing of the list of
    potential suspects (USDOJ, 2010, pp. 29-33, 36-38), but were never the sole criteria for
    eliminating suspects (FBI/USDOJ, 2011). Without further specification with respect to spore
    preparations variables, the committee finds no scientific basis on which to accurately estimate
    the amount of the time or specific skill set needed to prepare the spore material.”

  8. BugMaster said

    “there would likely be evidence that acetone was used.”

    When you buy a gallon of acetone at the hardware store, does the metal can it comes in contain any tin?

    • Old Atlantic said

      “No cans currently in wide use are composed primarily or wholly of tin; that term rather reflects the nearly exclusive use in cans, until the second half of the 20th century, of tinplate steel, which combined the physical strength and relatively low price of steel with the corrosion resistance of tin.

      Use of aluminium in cans began in 1957.[2] Aluminium is less costly than tin-plated steel but offers the same resistance to corrosion in addition to greater malleability, resulting in ease of manufacture; this gave rise to the two-piece can, where all but the top of the can is simply stamped out of a single piece of aluminium, rather than laboriously constructed from two pieces of steel. Often the top is tin-plated steel and the rest of the can aluminium.”

      “In modern times, the majority of food cans in the UK[3] have been lined with a plastic coating containing bisphenol A (BPA). The leeching of BPA into the can’s contents is currently (as of early 2010) being investigated as a potential health hazard.”

      Maybe they should check for BPA.

  9. Old Atlantic said

    Anyone who has not personally grown a gram of anthrax in plates in trash bags is just a true believer.

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