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

* Noah Shachtman writes: Did the Anthrax Attacks Kickstart the Iraq War? … Congressman Holt is quoted in Shachtman’s article saying: The anthrax attacks “made it possible to manufacture the argument that there was WMD in Iraq and links to Al-Qaeda” … LMW adds: Here are extracts from my novel CASE CLOSED regarding the potential linkage of “Saddam’s anthrax” to the invasion of Iraq

Posted by DXer on March 29, 2011


Secretary of State Colin Powell at the UN on Feb 5, 2003


Noah Shachtman writes for WIRED (3/29/11) …

  • Did the Anthrax Attacks Kickstart the Iraq War?
  • On February 5th, 2003, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell went to the United Nations, to make the case for war in Iraq.
  • A central plank of his presentation: the anthrax attacks that killed five people and helped send the country into a panic in the days after 9/11.
  • Less than a teaspoon-full of dry anthrax in an envelope shut down the United States Senate in the fall of 2001. This forced several hundred people to undergo emergency medical treatment and killed two postal workers just from an amount just about this quantity that was inside of an envelope,” Powell said.
  • “Saddam Hussein could have produced 25,000 liters. If concentrated into this dry form, this amount would be enough to fill tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of teaspoons..”
  • By the end of the following month, the invasion of Iraq was underway.

The anthrax attacks “made it possible

to manufacture the argument that there was WMD in Iraq

and links to Al-Qaeda,” Rep. Rush Holt said.

  • And long after any links between Iraq and the killer spores were disproven, the Bush administration used the mystery surrounding the anthrax mailer to press its case for war.
  • a few government officials (most notably, Sen. John McCain) publicly suggested that the Saddam Hussein regime may have been behind the anthrax letters.

read the entire article at …



  • I have long thought that the anthrax attacks, the invasion of Iraq, and the failed FBI investigation of the anthrax attacks … may in fact be linked.
  • Like my characters in the excerpts from my novel CASE CLOSED, written in 2008 … the DOJ/FBI press conference sounded so implausible that it started me thinking about what might have happened.
  • I am not making any accusations. My novel is fiction.
  • But I do believe it is a possibility worth investigation, because it explains the otherwise inexplicable failure of the FBI to solve a case that should have been solved and then subsequently accusing Dr. Bruce Ivins without any of the evidence that would have been needed to convict him, had he been alive to defend himself.

Here are extracts from my novel CASE CLOSED

regarding the potential linkage of “Saddam’s anthrax”

to the invasion of Iraq


… “After the nationwide panic caused by the anthrax mailings settled down, pretty much nothing happens in the FBI’s anthrax investigation. The next we hear about anthrax is in February 2003, when Secretary of State Abner Grant goes to the United Nations and holds up a vial of something – it wasn’t actually anthrax – claiming that Saddam can deliver weapons of mass destruction to the eastern seaboard of the U.S.

… Of course, we learn later that Saddam had neither WMD nor any way to reach our shores.

U.N. arms inspector Blix said something much like that a few days before we invaded Iraq.


… “What do we know so far?” Hamilton began, ticking off the points on the fingers of his large hand. “One, the FBI took seven years and never proved who prepared and sent the anthrax letters. Two, the President wanted to invade Iraq and was seeking justification. Three, the threat of anthrax from Iraq was used to justify the invasion.


… “The very best police force in the land is assigned to track down the person or persons who prepared and mailed the lethal envelopes. But even before any evidence is obtained, the great leader announces the desired result – there may be some possible link to Saddam, he says; I wouldn’t put it past him.

The great vice-leader also chimes in, saying that Saddam had henchmen who were trained how to deploy and use these kinds of substances, so you start to piece it all together.

“I would ask you to note that these instantaneous, unsupported allegations are directed at Saddam; Osama, who sent the planes, is not mentioned.


… “Time passes. A truly massive investigation is put into ponderous motion by the greatest police force in the land. Although some think there are only a few real suspects who should be investigated, namely those people with the means and the access to actually prepare and send the anthrax laced letters, the best police force in the land looks everyplace but where these suspects are known to be. Not surprisingly, no arrests are made.

“Now why would the best police force in the land look in all the wrong places? You can answer, Aryeh.”

Kauffman answered with a question. “Because they don’t want to solve the crime?”

“Right!” Hamilton said. “At least not until the unsolved anthrax attack can be used to support an invasion of the country still ruled by Saddam. The case for invasion is made from many factors, with WMD first among them; anthrax is prominently mentioned among the supposed weapons of mass destruction. Why, the great and respected Secretary of State even goes to the U.N. and waves what looks like a vial of anthrax, scaring the shit out of everybody.


… “You can’t prove that the FBI didn’t want to solve the case,” Kauffman said.

“Not yet,” Hamilton said.


… Marilyn Sowickey spoke first. “So you think the anthrax letters were a purposeful part of the President’s deception to justify the invasion of Iraq, that he intimidated the FBI so they didn’t solve the anthrax case, and that Dr. Ingram was subsequently murdered by our government in order to finally close the case when it no longer suited the President’s need to keep it open.”

“I’m not saying that’s what did happen,” Hamilton said. “I’m suggesting it could have happened, that it’s a hypothesis worth investigating.”


* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *



31 Responses to “* Noah Shachtman writes: Did the Anthrax Attacks Kickstart the Iraq War? … Congressman Holt is quoted in Shachtman’s article saying: The anthrax attacks “made it possible to manufacture the argument that there was WMD in Iraq and links to Al-Qaeda” … LMW adds: Here are extracts from my novel CASE CLOSED regarding the potential linkage of “Saddam’s anthrax” to the invasion of Iraq”

  1. DXer said

    There is a solid article today by David Willman in the Los Angeles Times about Mike Pence and his June 2002 letter to Attorney Ashcroft about the anthrax letters.

    Here is Mike Pence’s letter to Attorney Ashcroft in June 2002. See the item #3 referring to the anthrax being genetically modified.

    Since February 2002, I have argued that Al Qaeda’s Yazid Sufaat did not need Iraq’s help in weaponizing anthrax. This issue of genetic modification was settled as early as late October 2001 or early November 2002 by a comment by Condi Rice reporting the scientific finding. (I would have to pull it to know the exact date but it was very early on).

    Donald Trump’s running mate once peddled conspiracy theories about anthrax and Saddam Hussein

    Republican running mate Mike Pence’s claim of genetically altered anthrax was unfounded, according to scientists. (Darron Cummings / AP)
    David Willman

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s running mate stirred public concern after the 2001 anthrax letter attacks by asserting — without any scientific evidence — that the material had been “genetically modified” to make it more deadly.

    The statement by then-Rep. Mike Pence, now governor of Indiana, suggested that a foreign source — likely Saddam Hussein’s Iraq — was responsible for the letter attacks, which killed five people, disrupted mail delivery and temporarily shut down congressional office buildings.

    The FBI ultimately concluded that an Army anthrax scientist, Bruce E. Ivins, carried out the attacks. Ivins, based at Ft. Detrick, Md., committed suicide in July 2008 after his lawyers informed him that he would be indicted.

    Pence made his claims in June 2002, nine months after the first of two batches of anthrax-laced letters were put in the mail in Princeton, N.J.

    “Why has the FBI apparently concluded that the source of these anthrax attacks was domestic when there is significant evidence to suggest an international source for these materials?” Pence wrote in a public letter to Atty Gen. John D. Ashcroft.

    One of the contaminated letters, addressed to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), spilled dry-powder anthrax when an intern opened it on the sixth floor of the Hart Senate Office Building in October 2001. The building was shuttered for decontamination, and trace levels of anthrax were later detected elsewhere on Capitol Hill.

    “The material found in my office and in others on Capitol Hill was finely milled weapons-grade anthrax that had been genetically modified to increase its virulence,” Pence wrote.

    Pence’s claim of genetically altered anthrax was unfounded, according to scientists who analyzed the material recovered from the letters.

    “That’s just wrong. That’s simply wrong — and we knew at the time that it was wrong,” said Johns Hopkins University scientist Steven L. Salzberg, who was part of the first team of scientists to analyze the material for the government.

    As for Pence’s assertion that the pathogen was “weapons grade,” there is no set standard for what constitutes weapons-grade anthrax.

    Asked for comment, a spokesman for Pence said the governor’s aides would look into the issue. A spokeswoman for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

    The first indication that the mailed anthrax was not genetically modified came in early October 2001, when Ivins’ colleagues at Ft. Detrick determined that the infectious agent was treatable with all standard antibiotics.

    Pence himself indicated as much during a news conference outside the Capitol on Oct. 27, 2001. He announced that he, his family and his staff would take the antibiotic doxycycline as a precaution.

    C-SPAN footage shows that Pence introduced Dr. Greg Martin, a Navy infectious disease specialist, who said the mailed anthrax “has been very sensitive to all of the typical antibiotics that can be used.”

    “So we feel quite confident in the medications that we have that we will see no cases of anthrax out of the congressman’s office,” Martin said.

    By early 2002, the work done by Salzberg and his colleagues provided definitive proof that the material had not been genetically altered, and the FBI shared this information with members of Congress and the Bush administration, current and former officials said.

    “We had the data from the genome back in January, February [2002],” said Paul S. Keim, a Northern Arizona University geneticist who collaborated with Salzberg and became the leading outside scientist assisting the investigation. “So we knew there were no genetic engineering things going on back then.”

    Asked about Pence’s claims, Keim said: “He either was getting grossly bad information from somebody, or he certainly couldn’t discern good information from bad information.”

    In his June 2002 letter to Ashcroft, Pence also said the anthrax spores had been “coated with a chemical,” an assertion that, by March of that year, had been disproven by scientists at the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

    The anthrax attacks, coming soon after the suicide hijackings of Sept. 11, 2001, spurred fears that the nation was facing a second wave of terrorism – fears heightened by the sender’s use of phrases such as “Allah is Great.”

    The deadly mailings figured in the Bush administration’s case for invading Iraq. Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell cited the anthrax attacks when he addressed the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, to seek international support for military action against Iraq.

    Powell held a vial of white powder and said that a similarly small, teaspoon-size quantity of anthrax in one of the 2001 letters had caused havoc in Washington and killed two postal workers. Powell then suggested that Iraq had stockpiled enough anthrax “to fill tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of teaspoons.”

    In his letter to Ashcroft, Pence said the death toll from the mailings “suggests that professionals in an organized, large-scale research facility” were to blame.

    Pence went on to allege — consistent with other early proponents of the Iraq war — that there was a connection between Hussein’s regime and Al Qaeda.

    Dwight E. Adams, a biologist who headed the FBI crime laboratory from 2001 to 2006, said that Pence’s “leap of genetic modification at that early stage baffles me.”

    “He was out in the forefront, hyping this without facts,” said Adams, now director of the Forensic Science Institute at Central Oklahoma University.

    Adams and others noted that, as of June 2002, the FBI was continuing to collect samples of anthrax worldwide. Although at that point the mailings appeared to the bureau to have originated in the U.S., investigators had not yet excluded foreign involvement, as Pence’s letter suggested.

    Salzberg, whose role in the investigation began when he was at the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, Md., said: “I don’t know where he was getting his information. If he made those statements without talking to someone with direct knowledge of the molecular biology and genetics … then that was irresponsible.”

    Scott Decker, a geneticist and retired FBI agent who managed scientific aspects of the case, said that genetically engineered anthrax “was the first thing that we worried about, because of antibiotic resistance.”

    Asked if any evidence emerged to support Pence’s assertion, Decker said: “None whatsoever.”

    7 p.m.: This article was updated with a comment from Gov. Mike Spence’s spokesman.

    This article was originally published at 6:15 p.m.

  2. DXer said

    1 Thursday, 26 November 2009 2 (9.00 am) 3 (Proceedings …
    • /media/94794/2009-11-26-Transcript-Meyer-S1.pdf

    At what point — and clearly this was after 9/11
    — 18 did the most senior levels of the US administration
    19 settle on a policy of the forcible removal of
    20 Saddam Hussein’s regime as their pr
    imary objective?

    21 SIR CHRISTOPHER MEYER: I think almost very

    once the 22 shock of 9/11 had sunk in, once the anthrax scare had
    23 been and gone — this is — this followed the month
    24 after 9/11. It was something which, when I was in
    25 Washington, I didn’t give anything

    9 So anthrax letters going a round the place really
    10 spooked people, and if you read a book by
    Jacob Weisberg called “The Bush Tragedy”, this is set
    12 out in detail. It led to Dick Cheney suggesting, and
    13 being slapped down by the President, that the entire
    14 population of the United States should be
    inoculated 15 against smallpox, which would have led to 20 million
    16 deaths, or something like that, through the by
    17 So, to answer your question, well before the end of
    18 the year, those who had been
    arguing on the right wing
    19 that there was a need to settle accounts with Saddam and
    20 do it fast, suddenly got much more traction with the
    21 President of the United States. The President himself,
    22 as Commander-in-Chief in the war against terrorism
    23 suddenly was reinvigorated and found a real purpose for
    24 his Presidency, something which had not been evident
    25 before 9/11.

    1 I think I use a metaphor in that book where I say it
    2 was almost as if the people who really wanted to deal
    3 with Iraq and deal with it soon, burst out of the
    4 closet, the closet door having been blown open by the
    5 shock o
    f 9/11. Everything changed after 9/11.
    6 SIR RODERIC LYNE: Certainly by the time the President gave
    7 his State of the Union address in January 2002, the Axis
    8 of Evil speech

    I mean, you say in your book, 9 effectively containment was dead, the President’s belief
    10 was that Iraq was too dangerous to be left to
    11 containment and he had decided at this point that, “The
    12 officially mandated policy of regime change”

    I’m 13 quoting from your book

    “should be actively pursued”.

  3. DXer said

    Daily News flashback:

    Toxic Terror: Larry Wayne Harris and William Leavitt are arrested for plotting a biological attack on New York City subways in 1998

    BY New York Daily News
    Wednesday, February 17, 2016

  4. DXer said

    What was the dried powdered anthrax given Dr. Ivins to test by DSD as part of OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE? Was it really from Iraq? Or was Ivins just told that.

    Was it really a dried powder made from Flask 1029?

    Did Dr. Ivins find it?

  5. DXer said

    We know that no dried powder anthrax was found in Iraq. Right?

    And we know that Dr. Ivins told the FBI that he was brought a sample that he was told was from Iraq. He mislabeled, designating it IA or I1.

    Was he given it by Dr. Ezzell, the FBI’s anthrax expert (from DSD)? As part of DSD’s work in support of OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE?

    DSD was where the FBI’s anthrax expert at USAMRIID was located, the one who made the dried powder out of Flask 1029.

    Was the “national security sample” really from Iraq?

    Or was it dried powder made from Flask 1029 that someone wanted to see if it matched the mailed anthrax?

    When Dr. Ivins reports that his assistant working for DSD in support of OPERATION NOBLE EAGLE was worried about contamination, and he conducted “off the books” decontamination, was he essentially eliminating evidence of contamination of a dried powder made from Flask 1029? If so, who made it? Who made the dried powder in labeled IA or I1? What was its origin?

    In an interview of another USAMRIID employee on February 15, 2005 (279A-WF-222936- USAMRIID serial 1103), it was reported that certain employees at USAMRIID were considering a proposal to being using dried Ames powder for animal challenges. IVINS was questioned by the interviewing Agents concerning his knowledge of this proposal and any discussions related thereto.

    IVINS said he was not aware of any planning meetings or discussions concerning any proposal to switch from using anthrax in a liquid slurry form to a dried powdered form for animal challenges. IVINS related that to the best of his knowledge, such a switch would have been contrary to USAMRIID policy. IVINS explained that _________ had distributed a letter to all researchers immediately after the fall 2001 anthrax attacks stating that no powder versions of any select agent were to be made without his express permission. IVINS believes this was also a directive of the Fort Detrick commanding General. IVINS knew of no one at USAMRIID who produced dried anthrax after the fall 2001 attacks. IVINS said he would be suprrised to learn that such a proposal had actually been broached. As an aside, he claimed that he gets “really pissed off” by scientists who wan to make anything that could be used to kill ormake people sick.

    IVINS likewise advised that he had no first-hand personal knowledge of anyone producing dried anthrax powder prior to the fall 2001 attacks. However, IVINS said he recently became aware that ______________________________ had produced dried irradiated anthrax spores for a project with __________________________________________________________________. IVINS said he learned this by reading a USAMRIID response to a FOIA request. IVINS believed that the dried product produced by _________ was first irradiated in a liquid slurry before being dried.

    IVINS further related that USAMRIID ________________________ once brought IVINS a “national security sample” of what was believed to be powdered Bacillus anthrax which he asked IVINS to culture and test. The powdered sample was givein in a vial labeled either “IA” or “I1.” _____________ represented to IVINS that this suspected anthrax sample had come from Iraq. IVINS said that this particular sample was catalogued at USAMRIID as a “diagnostic agent” to avoid labeling it as Bacillus anthracis.

    By email dated April 26, 2002, when he went to find the sample, he couldn’t.

    He wrote: “________ Friday night I was looking for a strain that I had frozen down for _______ It is the “I-1″ strain. It is the “I-1″ strain. It was originally in small freezer tubes in a blue rack in the chest (not upright) minus 70 freezer in the B3 hall. I couldn’t find the tubes anywhere. The strain is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, and we need to find it. Do either of you have any idea where the tubes are? ____ when you were doing the boxes and moving stocks, do you remember them? If not, ____ could you please search the upright minus 70 for them? I may have put the tubes in another box or container, but I couldn’t find them in the new boxes you made.


  6. DXer said

    U.S. Intel Officials Warn Wall Street Execs of Al Qaeda Plot … including potential anthrax attack

  7. DXer said

    Dr. Ayman Zawahiri (Vanguards of Conquest) planned to use universities and colleges as cover to develop anthrax for use against the U.S.

  8. DXer said

    NAS: FBI believes positive finding in hijacker remains from Flight 93 was due to laboratory contamination

  9. DXer said

    Anwar Awlaki is fielding questions (like Dr. Ayman once did). Anwar should be asked who he thinks is responsible for the anthrax mailings of 2001 and the nature of the FBI’s questions when he was detained in 2007 (before being released).

  10. DXer said

  11. DXer said

    The abyss quote is Dead Certain by biographer Draper. Mr. Draper reports that on October 4, 2001, Bush teared up during a speech at the State Department thanking them for their hard work after 9/11. Back at the White House, Bush motioned Fleischer into the Oval Office. “A Boca Raton tabloid editor had checked into a Florida hospital yesterday, Bush told Fleischer. Anthrax. The veil of resoluteness fell away from the president. His shoulders were hunched. Fleischer had never seen him more upset. Neither man said a word — neither had to: This was it, the second wave.”

    Then, immediately after the October 5 denial of bail of the Vanguards of Conquest #2, someone mailed, on or about October 6, 2001, very fine powdered anthrax to US Senators Leahy and Daschle. Dr. Bruce Ivins would later describe the Daschle powder like “dust in the sunlight.” Dr. Ivins graded the Daschle powder an “A,” Leahy a “B”, and the New York powder a “C.”

    An infant visiting ABC was one of the first affected, which should have been prohibited (haram) in anyone’s book. Five people died, including an elderly woman and a hospital worker.

    The August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief included in the 911 Commission Report — had reported that the aircraft and attacks were being planned by the brother of Sadat’s assassin, Mohammed Islambouli. Islambouli was in a cell with Khalid Mohammed (”KSM”), who by November 2001 had come to lead the cell planning anthrax attacks in the United States. The anthrax was sent on the date of Sadat’s assassination and the date the Camp David Accords were approved. Sadat’s peace with Israel was a key reason the militants killed Sadat.

    ‘I think the seminal event of the Bush administration was the anthrax attacks,’ someone close to the president told Jacob Weisberg, the editor-in-chief of the online daily magazine, Slate. ‘It was the thing that changed everything. It was the hard stare into the abyss.’”

    “Dick Cheney was the strongest advocate of the possibility of attack and the need to prepare for it.” After 9/11, the Secret Service began monitoring the air inside and outside the White House — the chimneys of bio-detectors were visible from the front lawn. Cheney reportedly began traveling with a biohazard protective suit. At some point, fifty members of the mail-handling staff in the executive office buildings were taking Cipro.

    “By August [2003], Hambali had been captured, and had reportedly gave information leading to the revelation that Al Qaeda had been in the process of producing high-grade anthrax….”

    In any case, it predictably triggered renewed fears in the White House, where Bush and Cheney hammered the Agency for more details and chastised the FBI for doing too little to root out domestic sleeper cells.”

    Jacob Weisberg in the 2008 The Bush Tragedy writes. “Inside the administration, the October bioterror attacks had a greater impact than is generally appreciated — and in many ways greater than 9/11. Without the anthrax attacks, Bush probably would not have invaded Iraq.” He explains: “The anthrax attacks in New York and Washington created a sense of vulnerability that was in many respects greater than the mass murder at the World Trade Center and Pentagon. As horrific as September 11 was, it was a discrete crime, whose perpetrators were quickly identified and pursued. The anthrax letters, by contrast, killed only a few people, but remained unsolved.”

    Cheney in particular was so stricken by the potential for attack that he insisted that the rest of the National Security Council undergo a gruesome briefing on it on September 20, 2001. When the White House sensor registered the presence of such poisons less than a month later, many, including Cheney, believed a nightmare was unfolding. “It was really a nerve-jangling time,” the former official said. In time, the Situation Room alarm turned out to be false. But on October 22, the Secret Service reported it had what it believed to be additional traces on an automated letter-opening device used on White House mail.”

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