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

* 12 of 24 rabbits died over the course of 3 days after an October 2, 2001 subcutaneous challenge

Posted by DXer on March 15, 2011




15 Responses to “* 12 of 24 rabbits died over the course of 3 days after an October 2, 2001 subcutaneous challenge”

  1. DXer said

    GAO: Why did the FBI not provide and disclose the contents of this October 5, 2001 email? Who knew about and authorized its withholding?

  2. DXer said

    nine-member panel, headed by Dr. Gregory Saathoff, a University of Virginia psychiatrist who served as an FBI consultant during the anthrax investigation. …

    “The report is sure to stoke the debate over whether Ivins was, as the FBI has concluded, the sole perpetrator of the letter attacks. Investigators determined that Ivins spent a string of late nights in his specially equipped lab at USAMRIID preceding the attacks, and that he created and controlled a highly purified batch of anthrax that was matched through DNA tests to the material in the letters.”

    Yes, and so were the contemporaneous notes on 5 nights produced — to date refused by the FBI — as AUSA Rachel Lieber was asked?

    And were documents relating to the subcutaneous challenge of the rabbits on October 2 disclosed?

    • DXer said

      “The behavioral panel was formed in late 2009 at the suggestion of Saathoff, people familiar with the matter said. Saathoff appointed the remaining panelists: five other psychiatrists, two officials from the American Red Cross and a physician-toxicologist.”

      well, I’m glad, knowing that FBI Quantico has has officials from the American Red Cross and 5 psychiatrists doing their intelligence analysis for them, that my family won’t have to be “sheltering” in D.C.

    • DXer said

      In the report of its expert, who has been a longtime partner with FBI / Quantico, the FBI has given us more about an obsession with a sorority in the 1970s even though it has long withheld the handwritten notes he made on the 5 nights the FBI claims he was making anthrax into a dry powder ; the FBI has given us reports showing him to be psychologically troubled without providing a copy of the email he wrote on September 17, 2001, the day the FBI claims he travelled to Princeton. Are those documents provided in the report today? Dr. Saathoff should be asked.

      • DXer said

        Mr. Willman, who was given an advance copy of the report, reports that the expenses of the psychiatrists and the Red Cross officals were paid by the Justice Department. The panel relies on question marks that Dr. Ivins wrote on a 1987 form. Did those same psychiatrists understand enough about Amerithrax and true crime analysis to know the importance of the documentary evidence that exists — but has been withheld to date — from the alleged dates of processing and mailing in 2001? If those documents are not produced today, Dr. Saathoff needs to rethink the nature of probative evidence in true crime analysis.

  3. Old Atlantic said

    I could not find the thread where we discussed the Sep, Oct calendar recently. However, if Dxer is taking graphic suggestions, I would suggest the following.

    Place the BSL3 lab times on the dates of these calendar months. I would expand the margin and put the times on weekend nights next to the date on the margin.

    A title could be:

    The Night Mouse Check that Roared Refudiation of the DOJ/FBI case.

    If you can, you can put them in a pdf with the originals, your email correspondence with the DOJ/FBI to release the lab notes and any comments the DOJ/FBI made about these night checks.

    • BugMaster said

      Also note that I was wrong, the rabbits Ivins was working with in Denver, PA on September 18th WERE the rabbits that were challenged and scored between October 2nd and October 5th.

      The September 18th visit was for the 4 week blood draw to obtain serum (rabbits vaccinated at 0 weeks, serum draws at 2 and 4 weeks, challenge at 6 weeks) to determine antibody titers, also a source of anti-rpa102 antibody for quality control (?).

      Documentation, blood draws, processing of serum on 52 rabbits, all supposingly after Ivins was up all night?

      Was there anyone from any other labs associated with the project that assisted in the September 18th blood draws?

  4. DXer said

    Here is an example of a study revised October 2001 involving Bruce and Former Colleague #1 and #2 where golden Syrian hamsters were challenged subcutaneously.

    Vaccine. 2002 Jan 31;20(9-10):1421-4.

    Anthrax vaccine efficacy in golden Syrian hamsters.

    Fellows PF, Linscott MK, Little SF, Gibbs P, Ivins BE.

    Bacteriology Division, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, MD 21702-5011, USA.


    The efficacy of a licensed human anthrax vaccine (anthrax vaccine adsorbed, AVA) was tested in golden Syrian hamsters against a virulent Bacillus anthracis spore challenge. Groups of golden Syrian hamsters were vaccinated at either 0 and 4 weeks or 0, 4 and 8 weeks, then challenged subcutaneously (s.c.) at 10 weeks with spores of various B. anthracis isolates. Although ELISA and toxin neutralization assays demonstrated high titers, none of the AVA-vaccinated hamsters were protected from challenge or demonstrated a significantly extended time to death compared to that of control animals. The results of the study demonstrate that the golden Syrian hamster is not an appropriate model for investigating human anthrax vaccine efficacy.

  5. Old Atlantic said

    If you check animals, is taking a hot shower with strong soap before you leave part of the protocol? Even if you only are dealing with a mouse?

    So if your calendar is marked 8 PM mouse check, even if it took a few minutes, you would still be doing a rigorous shower and cleaning?

    So once you are into the suite, and you know you are going to take a thorough shower, you might as well relax, because you are not getting out of there right away.

  6. DXer said

    If nominated the next FBI Director, Judge Garland likely would be able to process large amounts of details in complex cases and have a first-rate understanding of the facts and applicable law.

  7. DXer said

    Anonymous Scientist said

    July 26, 2009 at 7:17 pm
    I’m advised that it is possible RMR-1029 was never actually sent to Covance. They may have been drawn for an in-house study with rabbits that were immunized atCovance and sent to USAMRIID for virulent challenge.

    I responded:

    DXer said

    July 27, 2009 at 2:32 am
    What projects involved animals (e.g., rabbits) supplied by Covance and sent to USAMRIID for virulent challenge? This should be knowable by correlating the published literature, the log, and the emails.

    I added:
    DXer said

    July 27, 2009 at 7:40 am
    An example of a study involving Ivins involving Covance animals is “Defining a serological correlate of protection in rabbits for a recombinant anthrax vaccine.” The study states: “New Zealand white rabbits (3.0-3.5 kg) were obtained from Covance Research Products or Charles River Laboratory.” There simply wasn’t enough animal housing at RIID to keep significant #’s of rabbits for extended immunization rPA regimens before challenges. Believe it or not, only three bunnies are the equivalent to two monkeys as far as required physical space goes.

    The one I cite above related to the Covance study was not provided by the FBI.

    The only study provided by the FBI was the one involving the former Zawahiri associate. I explained:

    DXer said

    July 27, 2009 at 8:09 am
    As another example of another small animal study done at Ft. Detrick involving virulent Ames and Bruce Ivins is one in which we know that some unidentified microbiologist worked “under the direct supervision of Bruce Ivins” according to one of the co-authors responding to Lew’s inquiry, is

    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 1999;180:1939–1949
    A Novel Surfactant Nanoemulsion with Broad‐Spectrum Sporicidal Activity against Bacillus Species

    Tarek Hamouda,1 Michael M. Hayes,1, et al.

    The authors stated:

    “We thank Shaun B. Jones, Jane Alexander, and Lawrence DuBoise (Defense Science Office, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) for their support; Bruce Ivins, Patricia Fellows, Mara Linscott, Arthur Friedlander, and the staff of USAMRIID for their technical support and helpful suggestions in the performance of the initial anthrax studies; Martin Hugh‐Jones, Kimothy Smith, and Pamala Coker for supplying the characterized B. anthracis strains and the space at Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge); Robin Kunkel (Department of Pathology, University of Michigan) for her help with electron microscopy preparations; and G. Morris and A. Shih for their technical assistance with manuscript preparation.”

    We know that Patricia Fellows and Mara Linscott were the subject of focused FBI questioning according to the note on the day of Ivins’ death, and we know that Kimothy Smith was the FBI’s genetics consultant.

    The authors explained:

    “Spore preparation.For induction of spore formation, B. cereus (ATCC 14579), B. circulans (ATCC 4513), B. megaterium (ATCC 14581), and B. subtilis (ATCC 11774) were grown for 1 week at 37°C on nutrient agar with 0.1% yeast extract and 5 mg/L MnSO4. The plates were scraped, and the bacteria and spores were suspended in sterile 50% ethanol and incubated at 22°C for 2 h with agitation to lyse the remaining vegetative bacteria. The suspension was centrifuged at 2500 g for 20 min, and the pellet was washed twice in cold distilled water. The spore pellet was resuspended in trypticase soy broth (TSB) and used immediately for experiments. B. anthracis spores, Ames and Vollum 1B strains, were supplied by Bruce Ivins (US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases [USAMRIID], Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD) and were prepared as described elsewhere [5]. Four other strains of B. anthracis were provided by Martin Hugh‐Jones (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge). These strains (from South Africa; Mozambique; Bison, Canada; and Del Rio, TX) represent isolates with high allelic dissimilarity.”

  8. DXer said

    The candidates being discussed, according to U.S. officials, are James Comey, Kenneth Wainstein, Patrick Fitzgerald and Merrick Garland. Also in the running, the officials said, are Michael Mason, John Pistole and Jamie Gorelick.


    Merrick Garland is very smart and was a partner at my old law firm but I’ve always been a big fan of Michael Mason who as head of the DC Field Office headed Amerithrax.

    • DXer said

      In a letter sent Monday to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the FBI Agents Association recommended Michael A. Mason, a longtime FBI agent and supervisor who is now security chief for Verizon Communications. Mason, a former assistant director in charge of the Washington Field Office, would be the FBI’s first African American director.

    • DXer said

      For years, the head of the investigation was Assistant FBI Director Michael Mason who was head of the Amerithrax investigation as head of the DC Field Office. Agent Mason explained that he regretted that Dr. Hatfill’s name had ever surfaced and noted that they could not replicate the powder — that is, they could not replicate the Silicon Signature.

      Joining the bureau in 1985, Special Agent Mason handled narcotics violations, violent crimes, white-collar crimes and public corruption. He was especially relieved the time he did not have to shoot the suicidal Elvis impersonator in a Sears parking lot. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he served as special assistant to FBI Director Robert Mueller. He assumed responsibility for Amerithrax as assistant director in charge of the Washington, D.C., field office. He oversaw the office’s massive counterintelligence efforts against foreign intelligence agents based in Washington, D.C.

      While in Buffalo, harking back to his days watching Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. on television, he addressed the portrayal of the FBI in “X-Files”, suggesting that reality was just as interesting.

      Mason was in the Syracuse office, when 2:15 a.m. one night, a 115,000-volt transmission tower came crashing down not far down the street from me. Mason investigated when the tower on the nearby Onondaga Indian reservation came 50 feet from crashing on a cigarette shop, near where the local residents buy their smokes.

      “This is a serious felony. It is more than just criminal mischief,” Mason said. The Niagara Mohawk spokesperson declined to comment on what caused the tower to fall. But a local Onondaga businessman Oliver Hill said he knew. The tower missed crushing his cigarette shop, which had been opened without the permission of the local Onondaga tribal leaders. “There has been sabotage on that tower because on each leg there are 20 to 30 bolts,” said Hill. “All the bolts were taken out on all four legs. So when the bolts are taken out, there’s nothing to hold it up so it fell over. Yes, it was sabotage.”

      I didn’t call the local FBI office about the tower incident. After all, smoking kills 400,000 people a year.

      Instead, I called the FBI office to tell them that a Ronald Reagan mask had been found along with a bank bag where the man lay in wait with a semi-automatic — first for my brother, and then the next week my father. The FBI agent in the small local office, who did not identify himself, said something to the effect: “We killed the Closing Time Bandit who used a Ronald Reagan mask in robbing banks. So this guy can’t be responsible for those robberies.”

      Ronald Petersen had been killed Aug. 15, 1996 by FBI agents in the Rochester suburb of Henrietta while plotting another heist. The rightist, who had been tracked by a miniature television camera on a telephone pole outside his home, died in a hail of bullets. When police searched his house in Liverpool, a Syracuse suburb, they recovered 20 guns, including two Uzis, 20,000 rounds of ammunition and a cache of explosives.

      “I know. “ I said, “This guy’s parole officer says his apartment in Watertown is covered with newspaper articles glorifying famous New York State criminals. He’s trying to make you fellows look foolish. By being a copycat and making it look like you killed the wrong guy..”

      As I best remember, the ex-convict and three-time loser who tried to take my Dad away at gunpoint that night before Christmas got over 20 years to life, with no possibility of parole. Robbery was the apparent motive. That night, the police siren had come on in within seconds of the 911 call coming in. The gunman spent the night holed up in a nearby garage and was captured after a psychiatrist/hostage negotiator came from Syracuse and talked him out of the garage. He asked that they kneel and pray together. (I never said the gunman was very bright).

      So why have I always been such a booster of the FBI and local law enforcement (that is, until US Attorney Jeff Taylor’s recent performance at the press conference last year and Daniel Seikaly’s calculated leaks about Hatfill before that). (Attorney Seikaly of Taylor’s same office pled the Fifth Amendment in connection with such leaks; his daughter then came to represent Ali Al-Timimi, the “anthrax weapons suspect” of the other investigative squad). Why have I always been such a fan of Director Mueller and Agent Michael Mason in particular? Because it is their job to protect our loved ones.

      Sam Stanton of the Sacramento Bee provides relevant background on Mason:

      “He has a friend in Syracuse, N.Y., who’s a felon, and when he talks about his favorite case — the successful recovery of a 2-year-old girl kidnapped at Christmas — tears come to his eyes.

      The son of a truck driver whose mother died when he was a baby, Mason knew he wanted to be in law enforcement early in childhood. As an African American growing up in Chicago, he said, he knew that many minorities said they had trouble with Chicago cops. But he said he never had a negative law enforcement experience.

      He shifted his goal from joining the Chicago police force to the FBI after seeing the old Efrem Zimbalist Jr. series “The FBI” on television.

      Mason knew many FBI agents came to the bureau with law degrees, but that wasn’t realistic given his family’s finances. So he ended up with an accounting degree from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.

      After graduation, he went into the Marine Corps, serving at Camp Pendleton and ending up a captain. But he still dreamed of joining the FBI, and when his tour of duty was up with the Corps he decided the time was right.

      “I remember when I called I didn’t have any idea how one becomes an FBI agent,” Mason said. “I called and said, ‘Can I have an application?’ And the lady, an old-timer there, said, ‘Sure, honey, we’ll send you one right out.’ “ ***

      People who have worked with him before say Mason’s nice-guy image is genuine, and a sign of that is his friendship with community activist Kathleen Rumpf in Syracuse.

      Rumpf, who calls herself a “felon for peace” (and who I adore) spent several months in prison for trespassing during a demonstration against the School for the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga. She has spent years in Syracuse fighting for prisoner rights and other issues, and when Mason showed up there one of the first things he did was meet with her.

      “I’ve been treated very badly in the past by the FBI because I’m an activist,” Rumpf said.

      But Mason was different.

      “He’s quite wonderful,” Rumpf said in an interview from the Syracuse offices of the American Civil Liberties Union. “He was incredibly responsible and treated me with great respect.

      “He said to me if he ever had to arrest me he would do it, and I said, ‘Be my guest.’ But I knew I could trust this man to be professional.”

      Local law enforcement officials echo that sentiment.

      ‘He is an outstanding individual,’ said Gary Miguel, chief deputy of investigations for the Syracuse Police Department. ‘You’re fortunate to have him.’

      In Syracuse, Miguel said, Mason worked hard to get to know the community and to cooperate with local authorities.” *** [Mason said,] “I’m not complicated enough to be political. It’s too hard.”

      Once told there was CIA involvement, he responded that his superiors might not like to hear that. Attorney Seikaly, to whom the head of the investigation and Mason reported the status of the investigation, came over from the CIA to the DC US Attorney’s Office on September 29, 2001. But a student of history likely would conclude that any suppression of information is for old-fashioned reasons: CYA. At the very least, when in doubt, follow the goddamn money.

      The question of the hour is how did Ali Al-Timimi come to have the mail drop at the Center for Biodefense that for example received issuance of the patent for concentrating anthrax using silicon dioxide in the culture medium? …the one my military lab head calls a “Wow!” microencapsulation patent. That is the best explanation I’ve seen that the FBI WMD head Majidi offers for the silicon signature. Ali Al-Timimi worked for 2 months for the former White House Chief of Staff. Did he list Mr. Card on his resume? He worked with the former deputy USAMRIID Charles Bailey at SRA in 1999. Ali did mathematical support work for the Navy and had a high security clearance. What was his security clearance for? Ali then came to work 15 feet from the leading anthrax scientist in the world, Ken Alibek, and the former deputy USAMRIID, Charles Bailey. They co-invented the method using silica in the culture medium to concentrate anthrax. The silica can then be removed through repeated centrifugation or an air chamber (according to a related patent). When you focus on Pasechnik’s work with a jet mill, on which NAS panel member D.A. Henderson was briefed, it is time for some probing questions to be asked.

      I’ve always argued that the key to achieve the best balancing of interests was to have an informed debate. I’ve always argued that with people like Michael Mason advising Director Mueller, I felt both secure and confident that authorities would always continue to strive to strike an appropriate balance.

      For his part, Director Mueller said, in a vintage comment, that it would be mistaken to suggest that the FBI has made a mistake. Well, respectfully, I disagree. Director Mueller likely is just too busy to get down to the details such as the 12 dead rabbits on October 3, 4 and 5 discussed above. Jeff Taylor’s comments were demonstrably inaccurate in central respects. untrue. More broadly, during the Bush Adminsitration, the US DOJ made a mistake in allowing itself to be politicized. Men like Mason and Mueller and Holder should be among the first to agree — and to do something about it. Did Attorney General Holder take to heart the lessons learned of the the Rich pardon in Clinton’s last days or not? Bring back the US DOJ that stands for the rule of law.

      Bring back Michael Mason.

      I think they will. We are better than the US DOJ during the 2001-2008 period.

    • DXer said

      I’m reminded that John Pistole, being interviewed by President Trump today for the FBI Director position, was also considered last time the position was open.

      To round out the field, in addition to Kenneth Wainstain — who has already been discussed in the current selection process — President Trump perhaps may want to consider Michael Mason, the FBI Agents Association pick last go-round, and Patrick Fitzgerald, who needs no introduction.

      All of these have had connection to Amerithrax in some fashion or other — some have played a very central and critical role.

      Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri: The Infiltration of US Biodefense

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