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

* Who in Dr. Ezzell’s lab threw out Ivins’ February 2002 sample which contained the 4 morphs?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 22, 2011

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6 Responses to “* Who in Dr. Ezzell’s lab threw out Ivins’ February 2002 sample which contained the 4 morphs?”

  1. DXer said

    In his recent book, Recounting the Anthrax Attacks, Scott Decker writes:

    “On the receiving end of those deliveries was Dr. John Ezzell, a skilled scientist who had spent the prior five years developing methods for detecting and identifying the tiny signatures of biological weapons. Day after day, Ezell and his team analyzed the trapped dust for indications of aerosolized bioweapons, with anthrax at the top of the list.” (p. 6)

    Who threw out the sample? Was throwing out the sample consistent with the protocols that Scott Decker developed? Was it the FBI Agent embedded in Ezzell’s lab? Was it someone involved in earlier making a dried powder out of Ames supplied from Flask 1029? Was Scott Decker involved in the project in which a dried powder was made out of the Ames supplied from Flask 1029?

    Don’t the American people have a right to know who threw out the sample? Don’t they still have a right to know? Or do former FBI Agents get to profit from a book on the subject while avoiding the hard questions.

  2. DXer said

    Dr. Ivins’ assistant, Kristi Friend, testified in her recently produced civil deposition:

    A. Terri Abshire and myself, once the anthrax repository was generated — I mean, every lab in the United States or all over the world had to submit any anthrax, specifically Ames, to the repository. I would assist Terri in receiving the samples. We plated out every one of those samples to compare the morphological differences between those strains and the ones that were used in the powders, or in the attacks.

    Q. And when you say to compare, who actually did the comparison?

    A. Myself and Terri Abshire. (p. 48)

    • DXer said

      Dr. Ivins’ assistant was the one one, who along with Terry Abshire, was checking incoming samples for the four morphs.

      Q. what — your basic stock that you grew of the anthrax
      with what’s coming in in the various investigations, right?

      A. Correct.

      Q. Did anybody have oversight there, Dr. Ivins or Dr. Ezzell?

      A. We would actually submit those results.
      The FBI pretty much reviewed them, because at that point
      in time the reason why we went through the lie detector
      test was because we were supposed to be kind of separate
      from both entities, so at that point in time, we were
      doing work specifically with the FBI, so we weren’t
      allowed to discuss that with Dr. Ivins or Dr. Ezzell.
      I did not have discussions –discussions with either one
      of them on that work. ( p. 49)

    • DXer said

      A. So what we did is, we created a spread sheet. Ms. Abshire has — well, now she has nearly 40 years of experience; at that point in time, she probably had 30, so she had a good eye for what she was looking for. She has also grown spores for many, many years.

      A. That’s pretty much all I did in the beginning, so I had a pretty good eye of what I was looking for. With anthrax, it’s very homogeneous, so it doesn’t change a lot. It’s hard to introduce mutants into the bacteria, so we really had to look very, very hard at the differences of the colonies, how they formed on the plates, the color of them, if they were shiny or, you know, kind of cut glass, which is what anthrax looks like; it kind of looks very — very gray, very rough.

      Q. Now, this is what a microbiologist or a pathologist calls a gross examination? You’re not looking under the microscope?

      A. No.

      Q. So this is just a gross examination, eyeball.

      A. Correct. (p. 50)

  3. DXer said

    The DOJ/FBI says that Dr. Ezzell’s lab (Building 1412, Room 212) shot out Bruce Ivins’ first sample. (Much hay was then made of that — but it all fell bizarrely on Bruce rather than the folks who inexplicably discarded the sample). The sample from Building 1412, Room 212 had 3 morphs in it. Terry and John were provided virulent Ames from RMR 1029 in August 2000. They used it to make a dried powder for DARPA. Terry did not submit a sample of what she had in the lab and for a long time could not remember how she came to have it. They used a lyophilizer to make a dried powder. It was done in the Biolevel containment level 3 in 1412. The lyophilizer in Building 1425 that has been discussed was in Building 1425 B5, which was a BL-2 lab. The lyophilizer was not available to Ivins to use under the Biocontainment Level 3 conditions in the B3 because it was too big to move. A dried powder could have been made using the lyophilizer in the lyophlizer in Building 1412, according to the FBI, but not not Building 1425, B5, according to the chorus of USAMRIID scientists in their civil depositions.

    In a very impressive question and answer, a very distinguished Dr. Ezzell voluntarily appeared at a conference moderated by Lew at which he answered any and all questions I put to him. When a panelist, a UCLA professor, detected physical distress, a break was called. I had not yet asked him about the 3 morphs that were detected in the anthrax in his lab. While I was on an errand, an ambulance came and took JE away. We will forever be indebted to JE for forthrightly answering questions in the filmed conference. I have uploaded excerpts of the filmed Q and A. It is necessary to get awkward and difficult questions answered by people in reconstructing the location of genetically matching Ames. That’s the only way to begin to assess potential access. For example, did Joany J. take some to Johns-Hopin when she went there to continue the DARPA work?

    I have known of Dr. Ezzell’s integrity and courage since I first called him to ask him about the dried powder he made out of RMR 1029. The people who address the issues and provide contemporaneous documents are the ones who are part of working toward the solution. The ones who withhold documents, even if just part of a bureaucracy, are the ones who are part of the problem. Overbroad use of (b)(6) and (b)(2) under FOIA has obscured analysis.

  4. DXer said

    These scientists in the article below perhaps are some quotable experts on the protocol that should be followed in connection with the preservation of evidence in such a case. It was the FBI’s expert John Ezzell himself who wrote the authoritative chapter on the subject in Dr. MICROBIOLOGICAL FORENSICS (Budowie, et al.) First, records should not be altered (such as was done with the inventory for Flask 1029 in which the Building number 1412 was whited out and 1425 was substituted). Second, all submitted samples should be preserved. Although JE forthrightly and courageously addressed the issue of his lab making a dried powder out of Ames from Flask 1029, he was not asked who threw out Dr. Ivins sample submitted in February 2002 that was a genetic match. GAO should identify who threw the sample out so the conflict of interest issue can be better understood.

    Guidelines for the Identification of Unknown Samples for Laboratories Performing Forensic Analyses for Chemical Terrorism†

    • Matthew L. Magnuson Ph.D.1,
    • R. Duane Satzger Ph.D.2,
    • Armando Alcaraz M.S.3,
    • Jason Brewer Ph.D.4,
    • Dean Fetterolf Ph.D.4,
    • Martin Harper Ph.D.5,
    • Ronald Hrynchuk M.S.6,
    • Mary F. McNally B.S.7,
    • Madeline Montgomery B.S.4,
    • Eric Nottingham B.S.8,
    • James Peterson Ph.D.9,
    • Michael Rickenbach Ph.D.4,
    • Jimmy L. Seidel Ph.D.10,
    • Karen Wolnik B.S.2

    Article first published online: 28 DEC 2011
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2011.02014.x
    2011 American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Published 2011. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the U.S.A.

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