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

* PROMED post by Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones, an oft-quoted and much respected anthrax expert and PROMED moderator.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 23, 2011

******

PROMED post by Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones … 

  • This [recent McClatchy] report is parallel to the evidence we — Barbara Rosenberg, Stuart Jacobsen, and myself — submitted to the NAS (National Academy of Sciences) committee last summer (2010).
  • A fuller version is in the final stages of preparation for submission to a suitable journal.

The sad part about this is that Sandia provided the FBI

with key evidence on the levels of silicone in letter-content spores

in late October 2001.

  • If the latter had had the wit to follow up on it at that time all this would be history and the true perpetrator(s) suitably dealt with.
  • Also tracking past sales of silane and siloxane chemicals to institutes and agencies handling Bacillus anthracis would have produced a short list for immediate visits and interviews by FBI agents with search warrants, and then the names of who would have had access to the products of their polymerization research.

******

Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones

Dr. Hugh-Jones is one of the foremost authorities on anthrax. He is currently Coordinator of the World Health Organization (WHO) Working Group on Anthrax Research and Control. He also has served as Chairman of the WHO/Veterinary Public Health Working Group: “Anthrax: Epidemiology and Information.” In addition, Dr. Hugh-Jones participated in the investigation of the 1979 anthrax outbreak in Sverdlovsk (now known as Yekaterinburg) in the former USSR. He was in Moscow and Yekaterinburg in 1992 when the Russian government admitted the source of the outbreak to have been an accidental spore emission from a biological warfare facility.

******

see also …

* Greg Gordon (McClatchy): the apparent failure of the FBI to pursue this avenue of investigation raises the ominous possibility that the killer is still on the loose … Stuart Jacobsen: it is “outrageous” that the scientific issues haven’t been addressed.

******

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9 Responses to “* PROMED post by Dr. Martin Hugh-Jones, an oft-quoted and much respected anthrax expert and PROMED moderator.”

  1. DXer said

    Dr. Vahid Majidi dismisses the views of Hugh-Jones — I guess on the grounds that he knew Bruce Ivins.

    I guess Dr. Majidi reasons the less you know the more reliable your opinion, eh?

    Dr. Hugh-Jones is a renown anthrax expert — perhaps the most oft-quoted on Amerithrax.

  2. anonymous said

    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2011/05/25/nadler-wants-to-know-why-fbi-lied-to-him-about-anthrax/

    Nadler Wants to Know Why FBI Lied to Him about Anthrax
    By: emptywheel Wednesday May 25, 2011 9:47 am

    Tweet2
    That’s a very good question, Congressman Nadler:

    On September 16, 2008, the House Committee on the Judiciary, on which I sit, conducted an oversight hearing of the FBI at which you testified. At that hearing, I asked you the following: “[W]hat was the percentage of weight of the silicon in the powders that your experts examined?” You testified that you would get back to me. On November 26, 2008, I sent to you this follow-up question in writing: “What was the percentage of weight of the silicon in the powder used in the 2001 anthrax attacks?”

    On April 17, 2009, then-Acting Assistant Attorney General M. Faith Burton, of the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs, responded with the following answer:

    FBI Laboratory results indicated that the spore powder on the Leahy letter contained 14,470 ppm of silicon (1.4%). The spore powder on the New York Post letter was found to have silicon present in the sample; however, due to the limited amount of material, a reliable quantitative measurement was not possible. Insufficient quantifies of spore powder on both the Daschle and Brokaw letters precluded analysis of those samples.

    A February 15, 2011 report by the National Academy of Sciences (“NAS report”), in which the NAS included its review of the FBI’s data and scientific analysis in the anthrax investigation, raises three questions about this DOJ/FBI response to me. First, with respect to the anthrax on the letter sent to Senator Leahy, the NAS report shows on pages 66 and 67 (Table 4.4) that the silicon content found by the FBI was 1.4% in one sample and 1.8% in a second sample. Why were both figures not provided to me in response to my questions?

    Second, the NAS report shows on pages 66 and 67 (Table 4.4) that the FBI found the silicon content in the New York Post letter anthrax to be 10% when the bulk material was measured by mass and 1-2% when individual spore coats were measured by mass per spore. Why was neither piece of data provided to me in response to my questions?

    Third and finally, the NAS report raises questions about the appropriateness of the measurements taken of the anthrax on the letter to the New York Post. Specifically, on page 77, the NAS report says:

    ICP-OES analysis indicated a silicon content of the bulk New York Post letter material of 10 percent by mass, while SEM-EDX performed by SNL demonstrated silicon in individual spore coats at a level corresponding to 1 percent by mass per spore. At the January 2011 meeting, the FBI attributed this difference to a limited amount of sample available (only one replicate was performed for ICP-OES analysis) and the heterogeneous character of the New York Post letter. An explanation based on the heterogeneous character implies that the specific samples analyzed were not representative of the letter material. In such a case, additional samples should have been analyzed to determine representativeness. If such data exist, they were not provided to the committee. Lacking this information, one cannot rule out the intentional addition of a silicon-based substance to the New York Post letter, in a failed attempt to enhance dispersion. The committee notes that powders with dispersion characteristics similar to the letter material could be produced without the addition of a dispersant.

    Were additional samples tested to determine the extent to which the ones examined were representative of the New York Post letter material? If not, why not? And, if the FBI does not have this data, how would you respond to the NAS that, without it, one cannot rule out the possibility that silicon was intentionally added? If the FBI did do these additional tests, please provide the resulting data to me and NAS.

    • anonymous said

      http://nadler.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1665&Itemid=132

      Nadler Seeks Answers from FBI on Anthrax Investigation
      WEDNESDAY, 25 MAY 2011
      WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, sent a letter to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Robert Mueller requesting answers to remaining questions in the investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks. Nadler specifically asked Mueller why the FBI appears to have provided incorrect information on the case to Nadler and the Judiciary Committee subsequent to a September 16, 2008 oversight hearing on the FBI.

      Text of the letter follows:

      May 25, 2011

      The Honorable Robert S. Mueller, III
      Director
      Federal Bureau of Investigation
      J. Edgar Hoover Building
      935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
      Washington, DC 20535-0001

      Dear Director Mueller:

      I am writing with respect to the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into the 2001 anthrax attacks and information provided by the Department of Justice (DOJ)/FBI to me about that case, which appears to have been incomplete and misleading.

      On September 16, 2008, the House Committee on the Judiciary, on which I sit, conducted an oversight hearing of the FBI at which you testified. At that hearing, I asked you the following: “[W]hat was the percentage of weight of the silicon in the powders that your experts examined?” You testified that you would get back to me. On November 26, 2008, I sent to you this follow-up question in writing: “What was the percentage of weight of the silicon in the powder used in the 2001 anthrax attacks?”

      On April 17, 2009, then-Acting Assistant Attorney General M. Faith Burton, of the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs, responded with the following answer:

      FBI Laboratory results indicated that the spore powder on the Leahy letter contained 14,470 ppm of silicon (1.4%). The spore powder on the New York Post letter was found to have silicon present in the sample; however, due to the limited amount of material, a reliable quantitative measurement was not possible. Insufficient quantifies of spore powder on both the Daschle and Brokaw letters precluded analysis of those samples.

      A February 15, 2011 report by the National Academy of Sciences (“NAS report”), in which the NAS included its review of the FBI’s data and scientific analysis in the anthrax investigation, raises three questions about this DOJ/FBI response to me. First, with respect to the anthrax on the letter sent to Senator Leahy, the NAS report shows on pages 66 and 67 (Table 4.4) that the silicon content found by the FBI was 1.4% in one sample and 1.8% in a second sample. Why were both figures not provided to me in response to my questions?

      Second, the NAS report shows on pages 66 and 67 (Table 4.4) that the FBI found the silicon content in the New York Post letter anthrax to be 10% when the bulk material was measured by mass and 1-2% when individual spore coats were measured by mass per spore. Why was neither piece of data provided to me in response to my questions?

      Third and finally, the NAS report raises questions about the appropriateness of the measurements taken of the anthrax on the letter to the New York Post. Specifically, on page 77, the NAS report says:

      ICP-OES analysis indicated a silicon content of the bulk New York Post letter material of 10 percent by mass, while SEM-EDX performed by SNL demonstrated silicon in individual spore coats at a level corresponding to 1 percent by mass per spore. At the January 2011 meeting, the FBI attributed this difference to a limited amount of sample available (only one replicate was performed for ICP-OES analysis) and the heterogeneous character of the New York Post letter. An explanation based on the heterogeneous character implies that the specific samples analyzed were not representative of the letter material. In such a case, additional samples should have been analyzed to determine representativeness. If such data exist, they were not provided to the committee. Lacking this information, one cannot rule out the intentional addition of a silicon-based substance to the New York Post letter, in a failed attempt to enhance dispersion. The committee notes that powders with dispersion characteristics similar to the letter material could be produced without the addition of a dispersant.

      Were additional samples tested to determine the extent to which the ones examined were representative of the New York Post letter material? If not, why not? And, if the FBI does not have this data, how would you respond to the NAS that, without it, one cannot rule out the possibility that silicon was intentionally added? If the FBI did do these additional tests, please provide the resulting data to me and NAS.

      If you have any questions, please contact Andrew Ginsburg on my staff at 202-225-3218. I look forward to your prompt response.

      Thank you for your time and attention.

      Sincerely,

      Jerrold Nadler
      Member of Congress

  3. DXer said

    Why Didn’t FBI Investigate AFIP’s Role in Starting the Iraq-Anthrax Rumors?

    By: emptywheel Monday May 23, 2011 1:20 pm

    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2011/05/23/why-didnt-fbi-investigate-afips-role-in-starting-the-iraq-anthrax-rumors/

  4. DXer said

    The first of the next five notebooks to be uploaded is notebook 3745.

    • DXer said

      There seems to be a discrepancy between those that they took from Bruce and those that they returned.

      It appears that they did not return Notebooks 3760, 4010, 4240 and 4241. This squares with USAMRIID’s report that FBI took the copy of Lab Notebook 4010 relating to Flask 1029 and have produced only 30 pages of the 80 page notebook. Do some of those notebooks relate to the making of a dried aerosol from Ames from that flask by the FBI anthrax expert JE? (The dried aerosol was made using Flask 1029).

      1.
      Bruce,

      Per request, please copy anything you might need from the following notebooks and
      bring the original notebooks to the by noon on Mon., 4/9/07:

      #1511
      1748
      1844
      1914
      2013
      2064
      3080
      3114b
      3167
      3209
      3233
      3234
      3269
      3464
      3465
      3563
      3655
      3685
      3716
      3745
      3760
      3921
      3945
      4000
      4010
      4037
      4103
      4237
      4240
      4241

      2. From:
      Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007 7:38 AM
      To: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
      Subject: Returned notebooks (UNCLASSIFIED)
      Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
      Caveats: NONE
      Bruce,

      The following notebooks have been returned and are ready for pickup in the

      1511, 1748, 1844, 1914, 2013, 2064, 3080, 3114b, 3167, 3209, 3233, 3234, 3269, 3464, 3465, 3563,
      3685, 3745, 3921, 4000, 4103, 4237

  5. DXer said

    Attorney Paul Kemp says FBI falsely blamed Bruce Ivins for anthrax attacks (1 of 3).

  6. Zicon said

    Stuart Jacobsen: it is “outrageous” that the scientific issues haven’t been addressed.

    Ya Think!!! Patients is key.

    See if the GAO gets on board with my idea and with the help of others that can help it along perhaps more things Just might get answered that have yet to be released/known yet… I’m thinking it’s very likely that the GAO will recieve many things relating to this case… Just have to try… Reading the above excerpts I will only say in my opinion here that in the late 80’s USSR ended up dumping a large amount of biological testing weapons in the atlantic. Some were in cylindrical shape with convex sides sround 3-6 inches in width with USSR marked on the metal casings.

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