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

* This is an interview of a scientist who had been working on the DARPA research while at USAMRIID; did Joany Jackman leave the remaining Ames from Flask 1029 with Terry Abshire or John Ezzell when she left?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 12, 2011

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12 Responses to “* This is an interview of a scientist who had been working on the DARPA research while at USAMRIID; did Joany Jackman leave the remaining Ames from Flask 1029 with Terry Abshire or John Ezzell when she left?”

  1. DXer said

    This interview discusses the virulent Ames that Dr. Ivins provided Dr. Ezzell and his assistants for the DARPA-funded research in August 2000.

  2. DXer said

    Here is an interview statement about an aspect of the DARPA-funded work being done at USAMRIID.

  3. DXer said

    The genetically matching Ames supplied by Bruce Ivins to the FBI Anthrax expert (to make a dried powder) was stored in a tupperware container. It was processed using renograph — just like Bruce Ivins used.

  4. DXer said

    On the issue of whether it was weaponized to make it more floatable, Dr. Majidi disagrees with the FBI’s aerosol expert John Ezzell. Okay. Majidi conflates the word “weaponization” with the word floatability.

    He doesn’t seem to appreciate that the probative issue of the silicon is due to the fact it is exculpatory of Dr. Ivins totally apart from issues relating to floatability.

    Vahid should have spoken to John Kiel to learn that iron makes it more lethal in the lung … and as to the fact that the iron followed the silica, he should speak to the smartest guy in the room, Peter Weber.

    He should have relied on anthrax experts like John Kiel and focused on the issue of microencapsulation and the usefulness of silica in protecting anthrax from being destroyed by sunlight. The words “We have this anthrax” is scary indeed when the issue is understood. And the importance of the issue has nothing to do with floatability. The FBI’s WMD head should have known this. Notice that I never said Gary M. was right. :0)

    Military aerosol expert John Kiel did controlled studies and his floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee with or without silica. He put a silanizing solution in the slurry and got the same image on the SEMS.

    Instead, the FBI knocked down the straw man that the FBI set up with the much-heralded help of the folks at Sandia. As if knocking down that straw man somehow filled the gaps in proof against Dr. Ivins.
    Dr. Majidi inappropriately kept secret the names of the people on the FBI’s “Red Team” which makes assessment of conflict of interest impossible. It was the Red Team that recommended to drop the issue of the silicon signature.

    Dr. Majidi writes:

    “the FBI did not do exhaustive work to exactly reproduce the sample because it had no probative value (it would neither provide additional leads nor help attribution.) Further work would have been scientifically informative and interesting but not necessarily within the investigative context.”

    Dr. Majidi has elsewhere has said that the silica might have been in the growth solution. Does he realize that is the patent that Ali Al-Timimi’s DARPA funded Ames researchers invented in March 2001? It concentrated the anthrax. The patent then was marketed internationally. The daughter of the lead Amerithrax prosecutor came to represent Al-TImimi for free.

    http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

  5. DXer said

    The hunt for America’s anthrax killer

    Federal agents took years to finger Army scientist Bruce Ivins as the man behind the attacks

    By Stephen Engelberg, Greg Gordon and Jim Gilmore And Mike Wiser, Vancouver Sun October 24, 2011 2:07 AM

    Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/hunt+America+anthrax+killer/5596021/story.html#ixzz1bgme4bD6

    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/hunt+America+anthrax+killer/5596021/story.html

    Rachel Lieber, the lead prosecutor in a case that will never go to trial, thinks that Ivins manipulated his sample to cover his tracks. “If you send something that is supposed to be from the murder weapon, but you send something that doesn’t match, that’s the ultimate act of deception. That’s why it’s so important,” Lieber said.

    However, a re-examination of the anthrax investigation by Frontline, McClatchy Newspapers and ProPublica turned up new evidence that challenges the FBI’s narrative of Ivins as a man with a guilty conscience who was desperately trying to avoid being discovered.

    Records released under the Freedom of Information Act show that Ivins made available a total of four sets of samples from 2002 to 2004, double the number the FBI has disclosed. And in subsequent FBI tests, three of the four sets ultimately tested positive for the morphs. Paul Kemp, Ivins’ lawyer, said the existence of Ivins’ additional submissions was significant because it discredits an important aspect of the FBI’s case against his client. “I wish I’d known that at the time,” he said.

  6. DXer said

    Now that we’ve learned that dried powder was in fact being made at USAMRIID by the FBI’s anthrax expert, John Ezzell, it is time to consider what special facilities were built in connection with the research his assistant Joany Jackman was doing for DARPA before she moved on to Johns-Hopkins. Did those special facilities relate to use of the Microdroplet Cell Culture method described by Professor Rosenberg here?

    “Prof. Rosenberg

    There is an interesting possibility that the attack spores may have been grown using a microdroplet culture technique in which microdroplets of inoculated medium are isolated by coating them with hydrophobic silica particles. (21) This technique has the advantages of portability, growth to a high density, and minimal need to concentrate the spores. (22) It is noteworthy that the silica particles used for the technique must first be made hydrophobic by treating their surfaces with a siloxane (silicone oil) or a silane derivative.

    Comment [ by Dr. Serge Popov at Center for Biodefense]

    This argument is purely hypothetical and implies a sophisticated generation of silica particles. It also ignores the basics of any perpetrator—keep a low profile, and opt for the simplest technique. The microdroplet cultivation activity is highly visible and not a part of a routine experimentation. USAMRIID denies the use of dry powders. Had anybody in USAMRIID been doing it anyway? “

    • DXer said

      In the dialogue between Dr. Popov, who took the time to give a detailed expert opinion on the condition that I upload it, he addressed Professor Rosenberg’s next point:

      “Prof. Rosenberg

      Siloxane and silane are organosilicon compounds, which may be the forms in which Si can most readily be taken up by Bacilli. [..] Thus, whether or not the microdroplet technique was used, the “high” Si content of the attack spores may have resulted from exposure to organosilicon compounds.

      Comment

      It may be true, but it may not be the only truth. We don’t have any evidence to support the claim that bacilli will eagerly take silicons. However, the presence of Si in the samples could indicate the use of fermenter. Commonly, antifoaming agents are in the form of polydimethylsiloxane (a type of silicone) used is a food industry as the ingredients intended to curb effusion or effervescence in preparation or serving. Antifoaming agents are also used medicinally to relieve bloating. A familiar example is the drug Simethicone, which is the active ingredient in drugs such as Gas-X, etc. The use of antifoaming agent such as Simethicone will result in detectable Si without other inorganic component. This raises an interesting possibility that the perpetrator might not had to treat the spores himself. He/she might have got a batch of the spores already fermented in the presence of silicon anti-foaming agent. In connection with this, there is another interesting possibility to consider. Taking into account that Dr. Ivins possessed a whole flask of fermented spores and other people may had access to it, the perpetrator had a possibility to withdraw a fair amount of spores and to replace the missing volume with water without leaving any record or trace of this action.”

      My question: What happened to the large amount of virulent Ames made by Dr. Ivins assistants, Pat and Mara, that is missing?

    • DXer said

      Now Dr. Ivins couldn’t make it but the FBI anthrax expert could — and we never heard a peep that the FBI’s anthrax expert had made a dried powder using a lyophilizer. Not a peep. … until the scientist courageously came forward even though, as he told me when I called in July 2009, that he knew he was under a gag order and likely being wiretapped.

      He deserves praise for his candor and the strength of character that was evident from his filmed explanation at the November 29, 2010 conference. But who, GAO, was responsible for keeping the lid on the info — even keeping it from the NAS?

      Who made sure that the fact that the FBI’s anthrax expert was the one making a dried powder at USAMRIID was kept secret?

      http://newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com/Legal/News/2011/07_-_July/Summary_Judgments__Our_daily_legal-news_aggregator_for_July_21/

      Summary Judgments: Our daily legal-news aggregator for July 21

      7/21/2011 COMMENTS (0)

      By Terry Baynes

      Tricky business: The Justice Department is representing the Army lab where the late microbiologist Bruce Ivins worked on anthrax vaccines – and it’s pretty tricky legal business, ProPublica reports. In 2001, Ivins sent anthrax-laced letters through the mail, killing five people, the FBI has concluded. Now the family of one of the victims is suing the lab in a civil suit, and the DOJ is handling the defense. Last week, government lawyers tried to fend off allegations that the lab was negligent by arguing in a court filing that the lab lacked the “specialized equipment” necessary for Ivins to produce and dry the spores. After realizing the argument undercut the FBI’s case, the department quickly retracted the statements as “inaccurate” on Tuesday.

      ***********************The sworn deposition testimony of government scientists remains, however, casting doubt on Ivins’ ability to make the lethal powder in the lab.********************************
      (emphasis added)

  7. DXer said

    For a representative 2000 publication on the mass spectrometry research (not involving Ames), see

    Appl Environ Microbiol. 2000 September; 66(9): 3828–3834.
    PMCID: PMC92227
    Copyright © 2000, American Society for Microbiology
    Rapid Characterization of Spores of Bacillus cereus Group Bacteria by Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry
    Victor Ryzhov, Yetrib Hathout, and Catherine Fenselau*
    Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742

    Matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization (MALDI) time-of-flight mass spectrometry was used to characterize the spores of 14 microorganisms of the Bacillus cereus group. This group includes the four Bacillus species B. anthracis, B. cereus, B. mycoides, and B. thuringiensis.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC92227/

    Joany Jackman of USAMRIID, Frederick, Md., is gratefully acknowledged for providing some of the spore lines and for helpful discussions.
    This work was supported by contracts from the Applied Physics Laboratory of the Johns Hopkins University.

    Comment: It involved use of a sonicator and Corona Plasma Discharge, as described by Dr. John Ezzell in his filmed presentation on November 29, 2010 about making a dried powder for the DARPA researchers (using Ames from Flask 1029 that had been irradiated in the slurry).

    • DXer said

      Question: Did Dr. Ivins know that a dried powder was going to be made out of the Flask 1029 he supplied Dr. Ezzell’s lab in August 2000? (after being irradiated in the slurry). DARPA receives only occasional passing mention in his emails as a source of funding.

      From:
      Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2001 1:21 PM
      To: Bruce.Ivins@DET.AMEDD.ARMY.MIL
      Subject:
      Hello Bruce-
      I was told last year by and that you were
      interested in anthrax vaccine development and that you had some experience
      with MPL in your models. We would certainly be interested in supporting you
      in any way we can, if only out of patriotic duty!
      As you may know, MPL is likely to be the first adjuvant outside of alum to
      be approved for human use, based on its performance in large-scale studies
      done by GSK. The reported side efffects were essentially equivalent to those
      of alum. It reduces the current three-dose regimen to two doses, and the Ab
      subclasses are much more balanced in favor of Th-1 specificity (thought to
      be more effective at neutralization). Moreover the nonresponder rate, a
      perennial problem with the HBV vaccine, was reduced dramatically. MPL we
      think acts on Toll-like receptor 4 to activate innate immunity.
      We will be having a discussion this week on how we can contribute to the
      anthrax vaccine effort at the level of basic vaccine development, to include
      a discussion of new manufacturing approaches and mucosal or airway vaccine
      delivery.
      I met last summer at USAMRIID during a conference on
      DARPA-funded programs.
      Let me know what we ca do. The time is now

      ************

      From: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
      To:
      Subject: RE: Anthrax, mice, and CpG
      Date: Thursday, October 11, 2001 11:30:21 AM
      Hi,
      Thanks for your letter. I think that the titer data will be extremely important. However, All the
      monkeys involved are likely to be protected from challenge, regardless whether they received CpG
      oligos, so challenging them probably wouldn’t provide us with a great deal of information. I think that
      the evidence of increased ELISA/TNA titers should be sufficient to push the CpG to a front burner as far
      as both possibly incorporating with the current vaccine and including with the new rPA vaccine. Being a
      “tech-base” scientist, I’m not sure where to start, but I can get the information to people higher up on
      the chain. They will hopefully put the CpG work into the product development/clinical trial track, and get
      it out of the tech-base work. Let’s first see how the titers go, then proceed from there. The use of CpG
      in non-human primates as a non-antigen-specific protector against anthrax and other possible BW
      threat agents would be a good area to probe. Perhaps it could be explored as a DARPA grant with
      collaboration between you and us. Please let me know when you will send the serum.
      Thanks!!
      – Bruce

      ***************

      From:
      Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2001 11:17 AM
      To: ‘Ivins Bruce E’
      Subject: RE: Anthrax, mice, and CpG
      Dear Bruce,
      Hope you are well. I’m just back from the major CpG ODN meeting (held once
      every 2 years). It is clear that the anti-pathogen role of CpG ODN has been
      recognized by other groups. DARPA has agreed to support studies of CpG ODN
      against anthrax (first in mice, then monkeys) by one of my competitors.

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