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

* Congressman Jerrold Nadler complains to FBI Director Robert Mueller that questions he first asked in September 2008 regarding silicon content in the anthrax in several of the 2001 attack letters were answered incorrectly … previous posts on this blog assert that the correct information may be very relevant to determining who the real perpetrator(s) of those attacks were

Posted by DXer on May 27, 2011


UPDATE 5/27 … Greg Gordon writes …

  • The FBI said the bureau had received the letter and would respond directly to Nadler.

LMW: let’s hope it doesn’t take 7 months to answer this time


UPDATE 5/27 … Jim White writes on firedoglake …

FBI Ignored, Hid Data Potentially Excluding Bruce Ivins as Anthrax Killer

  • The FBI ignored as potentially erroneous a measurement of silicon in one anthrax sample and then hid this information from Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).
  • Even more importantly, the high silicon measurements in at least two samples also were coupled with high tin measurements, opening up the possibility that silicon was added to the attack material in a form that is not mentioned in any of the FBI documents.
  • Significantly, it is virtually impossible that Bruce Ivins, whom the FBI has concluded acted on his own to carry out the attacks, would have been able to perform the necessary chemical manipulations involved in this treatment of the spores.
  • Ivins likely also would not have had access to the necessary laboratory equipment to perform this treatment.


Congressman Nadler & FBI Director Mueller


 Congressman Jerrold Nadler writes to FBI Director Mueller (5/25/11) …

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.

excerpts from Nadler’s letter are shown below …

see the entire letter at …


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.

* RMR-1029 was registered as #7737 in Building 1412 ; what were particulars of #7736? Was it from same seed stock? Did it have a silicon signature?

* Did the anthrax grown in soil reported at the June 2001 anthrax conference by Dr. Ezzell and his colleagues contain a Silicon Signature?

* Silicon Signature – what were samples 040030-2 and 040255-1 that showed Silicon Signature? If one was Flask 1030, what was the other? Dugway?

* the GAO review of the FBI’s anthrax investigation has begun … a report is expected to be issued by September 20, 2011 … *** UPDATE: a series of fascinating comments to this post suggest many pertinent questions that GAO might want to consider

… among many other posts and comments on this blog dealing with the silicon signature

and its often ignored significance in identifying the perpetrator(s) of  the anthrax attacks


excerpts from Congressman Nadler’s letter


  • On September 16, 2008 …  I asked you the following:  “[W]hat was the percentage of weight of the silicon in the powders that your experts examined?”

LMW NOTE: it took 7 months for Director Mueller to respond

to what was a very simple factual question !!!

  • On April 17, 2009, (the FBI) 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”) … 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.

Nadler: 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.

Nadler: 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.
      • (the NAS said) … 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.

Nadler: 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? 

  • If the FBI did do these additional tests, please provide the resulting data to me and NAS.



It seems clear from Congressman Nadler’s letter that FBI Director Mueller has been less than forthcoming to the House Judiciary Committee on crucial issues regarding the investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks.

The Congress and the American people need to know the truth and also why Director Mueller has avoided fully stating that truth.

The FBI’s publicly presented case against Dr. Ivins is clearly bogus:

… no evidence, 

…. no witnesses, 

…. an impossible timeline, 

…. science that proves innocence instead of guilt. 

So what really happened? And why doesn’t the FBI offer America a credible story?

As regular readers of this blog well know,

I can imagine only 3 possible “actual” scenarios …

  1. The FBI has more evidence against Dr. Ivins but is, for some undisclosed reason, withholding that evidence … POSSIBLE BUT NOT SO LIKELY
  2. The FBI, despite the most expensive and extensive investigation in its history, has not solved the case and has no idea who prepared and mailed the anthrax letters that killed 5 Americans in 2001 … EVEN LESS LIKELY
  3. The FBI knows who did it (not Dr. Ivins) but is covering up the actual perpetrators, for undisclosed reasons …THE MOST LIKELY SCENARIO


24 Responses to “* Congressman Jerrold Nadler complains to FBI Director Robert Mueller that questions he first asked in September 2008 regarding silicon content in the anthrax in several of the 2001 attack letters were answered incorrectly … previous posts on this blog assert that the correct information may be very relevant to determining who the real perpetrator(s) of those attacks were”

  1. DXer said

    Criticism directed at Mueller for Amerithrax is misguided. The criticism should be directed at FBI’s FOIA operation.

    For example, what if the lab pages being withheld by FBI’s FOIA operation were to show use of a silanizing fluid by Ivins in the B3 during the week prior to the mailing?

    The entire importance of contemporaneous documents is that one doesn’t know what they say until they are produced.

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

  2. Anonymous said

    I wonder if Mueller has responded to Nadler yet? It’s now more than 3 months.

  3. Zicon said

    Just some interesting articles… Links below… All worth a notable read or look over…–450K-fine

    Everyone be careful today.. There are some crazy careless idiot drivers out today.. Your supposed to keep your eyes on the road. Don’t they teach that in defensive driving training in FLEA’s

    • DXer said

      Zicon posts:

      Anthrax scare blamed on mix-up at lab / ‘Quality control problems’ may have set off false alarms that rattled Wall Street
      March 16, 2005|By Scott Shane, New York Times

      2005-03-16 04:00:00 PST Washington — Health officials believe that a mix-up of samples in a Defense Department contractor’s laboratory was behind an anthrax scare Monday and Tuesday that rattled the stock market, set the White House on alert, shut three post offices in the Washington area and led to more than 800 people being offered antibiotics.

      A senior military official said “quality control problems” at the contractor’s laboratory appeared to have caused the bioterrorism false alarm.


      Although it was dismissed as due to contamination at the, the head of that lab, as I recall the Richmond news articles, stands by the finding. That lab did a lot of critical work for Amerithrax.

      Although the presence of anthrax bacteria in one of four samples taken March 10 from the Pentagon’s Remote Delivery Facility was confirmed by three laboratories, subsequent testing found no trace of the toxin. Senior military officials said the most plausible explanation was contamination by the original contractor laboratory, Commonwealth Biotechnologies Inc. of Richmond, which has said a subsequent review produced no evidence of surface, air or sample contamination.

      Another March 14 airborne alert at a mailroom in the Skyline office building complex in Baileys Crossroads — whose defense contractor employees receive mail from the Pentagon facility — turned out not to signal the presence of any hazardous substance and apparently was a coincidence. About 800 workers were locked down for six hours in that case.

  4. DXer said

    David Willman writes in Mirage Man:

    “As of March 2011, Robert Mueller had not responded to the author’s longstanding requests for an interview regarding the anthrax investigation.” (p. 406, n. 36)

  5. DXer said

    David Willman in Mirage Man at page 386 n. 42:

    “In his book, Ridge defined “weaponized” anthrax as material that had been ground finely, its toxicity greatly enhanced by the adding of “other substances.” Ridge wrote that the anthrax mailed to Daschle “had been weaponized.” See T. Ridge with L. Bloom, The Test of Our Times (Thomas Dunne Books, 2009).

  6. Lew Weinstein said

    also see …

    FBI Ignored, Hid Data Potentially Excluding Bruce Ivins as Anthrax Killer

    the FBI ignored as potentially erroneous a measurement of silicon in one anthrax sample and then hid this information from Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Even more importantly, the high silicon measurements in at least two samples also were coupled with high tin measurements, opening up the possibility that silicon was added to the attack material in a form that is not mentioned in any of the FBI documents. Significantly, it is virtually impossible that Bruce Ivins, whom the FBI has concluded acted on his own to carry out the attacks, would have been able to perform the necessary chemical manipulations involved in this treatment of the spores. Ivins likely also would not have had access to the necessary laboratory equipment to perform this treatment.

  7. Zicon said

    All “opinions” only
    I believe it’s way past time that hopefully someone will submit or publish a “FULL complete list of both PRIVATE & Government” labs that are contractors of/for the DOD Department of Defense/Army etc. I’m going to only hypothetically say for now there are some In Virginia, West VA, *Florida, Maryland, Georgia, etc.. *Falls Church, Richmond, Next door (or inside) to the Pentagon, & the Cia and the list would go on and on… This is just a hypothetical opinion but I’m strongly going to bet that we will see a FULL accurate list published that could be verified of all Private & Government Labs & Contractors…

    • DXer said

      Alternatively, you could go to your local university library and search the published literature. BHR in December 2001 in her compilation of evidence, which has withstood the test of time well, published a list of 16 known to have handled virulent Ames.

      • DXer said

        The FBI only produced one peer-reviewed article in its 3500 pages of production upon the closing of Amerithrax. It involved microencapsulation research by the former Zawahiri associate supplied virulent Ames. Microencapsulation, not “weaponization”, is indicated by the forensics. The DARPA patent at the GMU Center for Biodefense is a microencapsulation patent with dual use. Source: head of Air Force lab JK.

        • DXer said

          Tarek thanked Bruce Ivins for supplying the virulent Ames, and Patricia Fellows (Former Colleague #1; Technician #2) and Mara Linscott (Former Colleague #2; Technician #1) for providing technical assistance. He thanked Martin Hugh-Jones and FBI genetics expert Kimothy Smith for providing other non-Ames anthrax and the B3 space. He also thanked Pamala Coker, Kimothy’s close friend, who in her thesis published Patricia Fellows’ research on making a more lethal Ames by inserting clones of the virulence plasmids. The Amerithrax investigation was posed with huge difficulties from the outset notwithstanding the presumed good faith of every single one one of the US scientists. Dr. Ayman Zawahiri’s plan was to infiltrate US biodefense and he had already succeeded by (1) having Rauf Ahmad attend annual conferences with the FBI’s anthrax expert making a dried powder out of Flask 1029 and other USAMRIID and Porton Down scientists; and (2) by having Ali Al-Timimi come to share a suite with the leading Ames researchers.

          When Dr. Ayman Zawahiri next attacks the United States, everyone should ask: What might I have done differently in double-checking my understanding of the evidence? For example, did I double-check whose initials are reflected in the log book relating to the April 2002 submission? Did I disclose to the GAO showing the examination of the toner of the copiers to which Dr. Ivins had access? Did I see that the September 17, 2001 email was produced (and the other 9/17 emails not yet disclosed) to show the time it was sent?

    • Zicon said

      Just in a hypothetical opinion the list “that is known” is much shorter than the actual list that exist that all bio’s are sub-contracted out… The Us government a lot of time recklesly just hands out thing and sub-contracts a lot of things to private corporations espically if it’s something that if there is a likely chance of things going to crap or very very wrong the US. Government/Army does Not want any ties to it by means or paperwork and ownership… Anyone with the smallest amount of common sense can see where I’m going with this, and that I’m sure that there are many documented occurences in the past that can prove just that on many projects. Bigger questions that might arise is why in the hell is the US government/Army handing certain things out all over the world without the proper security and FULL oversight and backups for backups on top of more backups IN CASE SOMETHING GOES WRONG.. But there IS NOT something like that in place and espically pre 2001… How many packages that have deadly pathogens and toxins that where a single drop if leaked could kill thousands of innocent lives? And it gets mixed in with your mail, my mail and everyone elses mail? What happens if theres an isolated occurence that anthrax or perhaps something far worse that has been genetically enhanced/mutation was leaked from any of ALL of the very lengthy list of places that work on deadly pathogens etc. And you get sick and die.. And it was from a place that no one knows about, How do you get justice for that one person… I can say know that washington NSA along with the Exe. would slap a National Securities Act and use the Patriot Act SO FAST that you would just be wasting your time trying to seek justice… I’m betting there’s a stack of those papers that are ALREADY SIGNED and in the right hands to just stamp a date on them and all their legal paper work is DONE…
      Anyone with an extremely heightened common sense could sit and poke holes in the governments & Privates best bio, Nuc, & National Security along with ALL other types of classified work all day long without a second look… Question is who has had ANY and ALL types of access from the “BIRTH” of the AMES STRAIN from many decades ago until Present time? Can you answer that Director R. Mulluer III? “Or will you tell basically lies like what has appeared to have been told to US Congressman Nadler?” “Which ISN”T THAT A CRIME???” In my strong opinon for the Director of the FBI and OBAMA need to grow a set and be honest for once in your life! Those who pay your salary deserve the truth and not a bunch of lies that comes from that pea sized brain that is making decisions for millions of people, which is and will affect many generations to come long after we are all gone… The raod you guys are paving is one hell of a rocky road.. The Russians, Germans and Chinese are catching up on a smooth and steady path that is solid and not full of sand…
      All Just an opinion ONLY for now…

  8. DXer said

    Rep. Nadler presses FBI for anthrax information

    Greg Gordon | McClatchy Newspapers


    Nadler wrote Mueller that the response in April 2009 from M. Faith Burton, an acting chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legislative Affairs “appears to have been incomplete and misleading.”

    The FBI said the bureau had received the letter and would respond directly to Nadler.


    • DXer said

      Dr. Burans, Dr. Turnbull of Porton Down, Dr. Franz of Southern Research Institute and others noted in their once secret but now unclassified Technical Review Panel Meeting Summary, 14 Nov. 2001 that the mailed anthrax was “[a]pparently treated hydrophilic silica.”

      • DXer said

        A department colleague of Bin Laden’s sheik’s protege, Ali Al-Timimi was leading anthrax scientist Kenneth Alibek and former deputy USAMRIID Commander Charles Bailey. Dr. Bailey, Alibek’s co-director of the Center for Biodefense at GMU –told a reporter in Fall 2001 that the presence of silica is significant, but he declined to say why, citing national security concerns. “I don’t think I want to give people — terrorists — any information to help them, said Dr. Charles Bailey, a scientist at Advanced Biosystems Inc. at George Mason University and former commander of the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID).” The problem was that a microbiologist trained in computer science and actively communicating with Bin Laden’s sheik and the 911 imam Anwar Awlaki was working just feet away from both famed Russian anthrax bioweaponeer Ken Alibek and Dr. Bailey. Bin Laden’s supporters already had access to the information. Bailey and Alibek in mid-March 2001 had filed a confidential patent application relating to the concentration of anthrax using silicon dioxide.

        • DXer said

          Separately, the GAO should should consult with experts regarding the peer reviewed literature that Dr. Ayman Zawahiri was studying involving silica and anthrax.

          For a review of the use of inorganic media involving silica as a means of culturing microorganisms, see
          Appl Microbiol. 1954 January; 2(1): 5–8.

          Silica Gel as a Microbiological Medium
          Potentialities and a New Method of Preparation
          John M. Kingsbury and Elso S. Barghoorn1
          Biological Laboratories, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

          See also
          Microbial Culture Preservation With Silica Gel
          by AR GRIVELL – 1969 – Cited by 19 – Related articles

          Preserving microbial cultures by dehydration with anhydrous silica gel. …

          In Dr. Ayman Zawahiri’s study of Morris “A selective medium for Bacillus anthracis,” J. Gen. Microbiol. 13:456-460 (1955), for example, Ayman was advised of the “Growth tests” in which the Miles & Misra (1938) technique was used to inoculate the control and test media. Broth cultures, spore suspensions and soil extracts were tested. The latter were prepared by extracting various samples of soil to which Bacillus anthracis had been added with water (1 g. soil/20 ml. water) and heating at 60 degrees for 30 min. before use. Portions of the heated soil extract were also filtered through Millipore membranes which after filtration were placed with deposited upwards on the agar media.

        • DXer said

          Dr. Bailey, once so candid about not wanting to give terrorists ideas about silica, shared a suite with the sheikh coordinating with Bin Laden’s sheik and with sheik Anwar Awlaki.

          In 2000, IANA radio ran an item “CIA to Monitor Foreign Students.” The item as published on the IANA website read: “American anti-terrorism policies are ‘seriously deficient according to the US National Commission on Terrorism, a body created by Congress after the bombing of 2 US embassies in East Africa.'”

          In November 2007, FBI Director Mueller gave a speech in which he warned against the need to guard against spies at universities, who for example, may have access to pre-patent, pre-classification biochemistry information.

          “Al Qaeda is tremendously patient and thinks nothing about taking years to infiltrate persons in and finding the right personnel and opportunity to undertake an attack. And we cannot become complacent, because you look around the world, and whether it’s London or Madrid or Bali or recently Casablanca or Algiers, attacks are taking place.”

          Infiltrator Ali Mohamed was the “Teflon terrorist.” Ali Mohammed, an EIJ member who was associated with the unit that killed Sadat, had an alibi for the Sadat assassination. He was at an officer exchange program studying at the JFK Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Green Beret and Delta Force officers trained there. After he was forced out of the Egyptian Army for his radical beliefs, he went to work at Egyptair. As a security advisor, where he learned how to hijack airliners. He then joined the CIA and the US Army. He was a supply sergeant at the US Army’s Fort Bragg. He lectured Green Beret and Delta Forces on the middle east. He stole high resolution maps from the map shack and brought them to Zawahirii in Afghanistan. In 1989, Ali Mohamed traveled from Fort Bragg to train men that would later commit WTC 1993. When Ali Mohammed traveled to Brooklyn, he stayed with Islamic Group and Abdel-Rahman’s bodyguard Nosair, the man who would assassinate Rabbi Kahane in 1990.

          WTC 1993 prosecutor Andrew McCarthy concludes that “in small compass, [Ali Mohammed] is the story of American intelligence and radical islam in the eighties and nineties: the left hand oblivious not only to the right but to its own fingers … while jihadists played the system from within, with impunity, scheming to kill us all.” He emphasizes: “There is no way to sugar coat it: Ali Mohamed is a window on breathtaking government incompetence.” He writes: ”I raised holy hell … that I strongly suspected Mohamed was a terrorist, that the FBI should be investigating him rather than allowing him to infiltrate as a source … Because, you know what they say “IMAGINE THE LIABILITY.”

          In 1991, when Bin Laden wanted to move from Afghanistan to Sudan, Ali Mohammed served as his head of security and trained his bodyguards. Along with a former medical student, Khalid Dahab, Ali Mohamed recruited ten Americans for “sleeper cells.” After the 1998 embassy bombings, when FBI agents secretly swarmed his California residence, they found a document “Cocktail” detailing how cell members should operate. Even Al Qaeda central would not know the identity of members and different cells would not know each other’s identity. It was Ali Mohamed who was the source for the December 4, 1998 PDB to President Clinton explaining that the brother of Sadat’s assassin, Islambouli, was planning attacks on the US. In November 2001, did the Quantico profilers know of this egregious history of infiltration and harm flowing from treating the Nosair case as a “lone wolf” rather than an international conspiracy? One man’s “lone wolf” experiencing howling loneliness is another man’s Salafist operating under strict principles of cell security and “need-to-know.”

          A former FBI agent in the New York office who asked not to be identified, told author Peter Lance: “Understand what this means. You have an Al Qaeda spy who’s now a U.S. citizen, on active duty in the U.S. Army, and he brings along a video paid for by the U.S. government to train Green Beret officers and he’s using it to help train Islamic terrorists so they can turn their guns on us. By now the Afghan war is over.”

          Steve Emerson once said of the former US Army Sergeant who was Ayman Zawahiri’s head of intelligence: “Ali Mohamed is one of the most frightening examples of the infiltration of terrorists into the infrastructure of the United States. Like a [character in a] John Le Carre thriller, he played the role of a triple agent and nearly got away with it.” Those officials who sought to minimize the security breach would
          have to explain away the classified maps of Afghanistan he stole from the map shack, and the classified cables and manuals found in such places as the home of Nosair, the assassin of Rabbi Kehane.

          Not even Ali Mohammed, however, could boast the letter of commendation from the White House once given Ali Al-Timimi, previous work for White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, or a high security clearance. Ali Mohammed did not even have a security clearance but was merely a supply sergeant at the base where Special Operations was located. ‘Dr. Ali Al-Timimi’s Support Committee’ in an email to supporters dated April 5, 2005 explained: “This is a summary of the court proceedings that took place yesterday April 4th 2005. We will send a summary everyday inshallah. *** “In his opening statement, Defense attorney Edward B. MacMahon Jr. said that Al-Timimi was born and raised in Washington DC. He has a degree in Biology and he is also a computer scientist, and a mathematician. He worked for Andrew Card, who’s now the White House chief of staff, at the Transportation Department in the early 1990s.”

          There was an elephant in the room no one talked about. A colleague of famed Russian bioweaponeer Ken Alibek and former USAMRIID Deputy Commander Charles Bailey, a prolific Ames strain researcher, has been convicted of sedition and sentenced to life plus 70 years in prison. He worked in a program co-sponsored by the American Type Culture Collection and had access to ATCC facilities, as well as facilities of the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense at George Mason University then run by Dr. Alibek
          and Dr. Bailey. The bionformatics grad student once had a high security clearance for mathematical support work for the Navy.

          Many commentators have long held strong and divergent opinions of what has been published in the media about Amerithrax, what they knew and their political views. But it turns out that they apparently have just been seeing the elephant in the living room from a different angle. Actually, they’ve just been in a position to see the elephant’s rump from outside the living room door. One US law professor, Francis Boyle, who has represented islamists abroad, first publicized the theory that a US biodefense insider was responsible. He has served as legal advisor to the Palestinian Liberation Organization and as counsel for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Separately the theory was adopted by professor Barbara Rosenberg. But Professor Boyle and Rosenberg were not so far from the truth — just incorrect as to motive. The documentary shows that Zawahiri’s plan was to infiltrate the US and UK biodefense establishment, and the evidence shows that is exactly what he did.

          In a June 2005 interview in a Swiss (German language) weekly news magazine, Ken Alibek addresses the anthrax mailings:

          A. “What if I told you Swiss scientists are paid by Al Qaeda? You could believe it or not. It has become somewhat fashionable to disparage Russian scientists. Americans, Iraqis, or whoever could just as well be involved with Al Qaeda. Why doesn’t anyone speculate about that?”
          Q. “But could one of your students build a
          biological weapon in the garage?”
          A. “Let me reply philosophically: Two hundred years ago, it was unthinkable to believe that people would be using mobile telephones, wasn’t it? Everything changes. Our knowledge grows, and technology develops incredibly quickly. … I am not saying that a student is in a position to build a biological weapon all by himself. But the knowledge needed to do it is certainly there.”

          o one who responded to my inquiries ever knew Al-Timimi to ever have been involved in any biodefense project. For example, former Russian bioweaponeer Sergei Popov did not know of any such work by Al-Timimi. Anna Popova had only seen him in the hall on a very rare occasion. Dr. Alibek thought of him as a “numbers guy” rather than a hands-on type. Given that the FBI knows what Al-Timimi had for dinner on September 16, 2001 and lunch on September 17, it is very likely that the past years have involved a continued search for the mailer and/or processor. His attorney emphasizes that while they searched for materials related to a planned biological attack when they searched his townhouse in late February 2003, they came up empty.

          DOD official Peter Leitner, who also taught at GMU, supervised a 2007 PhD thesis by a graduate student that explores biosecurity issues at GMU. The PhD biodefense thesis on the vulnerability of the program to infiltration explains:
          “As a student in the biodefense program, the author is aware that students without background checks are permitted to work on grants, specifically Department of Defense, that
          has been awarded to NCBD under the Department of Molecular and Microbiology at GMU. Students are also permitted to do research separately from work in the lab for their studies. Work and studies are separate, but related by the lab. Thus, student access, research and activities go unchecked and unmonitored. Students have access to critical information and technology.”

          The author explains:
          “A principal investigator (PI) may hire a student based on a one on one interview, post doctoral or masters interest, technical abilities, publications, previous work and lab experience, whether student qualifications match the principal interrogators current research, whether there is a space, and if the timing is right. There is no formal screening process or background check that the author is aware of for teaching or research assistantships.”

          Other students took a “red cell” approach that have corroborated the findings of the thesis. Proliferation leads to great risk of infiltration.

          LSU researcher Martin Hugh-Jones explained: “There were no more than ten labs in the nation working with the organism, and now it’s about 310—and they all want virulent strains. In the old days virtually everyone was paid by Department of Defense to do their research because that’s the only place where money came from because the organism wasn’t thought to be of economic importance. Now that it’s a bioterrorist threat and money’s available for research, experts have come out of the walls. The whole damn thing is bizarre.”A 2004 Office of the Inspector General of the Department of
          Health and Human Services report: “Serious weaknesses compromised the security of select agents at the universities under review. Physical security of select agents at all 11 universities left select agents vulnerable to theft or loss, thus elevating the risk of public exposure.”

          Dr. Leitner in a letter to the Fairfax County Police Department wrote:

          “Now we see that Sergeant Rasool was the subject of a several-year long investigation – in fact, he was under investigation at the time he lodged his complaints against us — and was recently convicted of a very serious security breach involving misusing FBI databases to assist another person under FBI investigation for Federal terrorism charges.” Fairfax County Police Department Sergeant Rasool sought to stop the training work being done by Dr. Leitner, who taught biosecurity work at George Mason University’s Center for Biodefense.”

          The GAO should be interviewing experts such as Dr. Leitner.

        • DXer said

          The patent relating to concentration of anthrax using silica was delivered to Ali Al-Timimi’s in-box in March 2001 at GMU’s DARPA-funded Biodefense in Discovery Hall. The work with virulent Ames was done at Southern Research Institute in Frederick, which had the subcontract under the multimillion dollar award from DARPA. Dave Franz, who advised the investigation in connection with the November 2001 Technical Summary that noted the mailed anthrax apparently was treated with hydrophilic silica, could describe the DARPA research done at SRI in Frederick. That B3 lab came to be led by Patricia Fellows, Bruce Ivins’ former colleague. It was Dr. Franz who once was so helpful in arranging for me to interview John Ezzell the FBI anthrax expert, so that he could forthrightly confirm that the work he did in making a dried powder was done AFTER it had been irradiated. But what needs to be explored is the work done with VIRULENT Ames at SRI in Frederick.

          GAO should probe why the FBI neither disclosed that its expert had made a dried aerosol out of Ames from Flask 1029 — nor disclosed it in the materials provided to the NAS.

          Ali Al-Timimi worked at the DARPA-funded George Mason University’s Discovery Hall throughout 2000 and 2002 period. The Mason Gazette in “Mason to Pursue Advanced Biodefense Research” on November 17, 2000 had announced: “The School of Computational Sciences (SCS) and Advanced Biosystems, Inc., a subsidiary of Hadron, Inc., of Alexandria, are pursuing a collaborative program at the Prince William Campus to enhance research and educational objectives in biodefense research. The article noted that the program was funded primarily by a grant awarded to Advanced Biosystems from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). A 2007 GMU PhD thesis explains that the “An Assessment of Exploitable Weaknesses in Universities” by Corinne M. Verzoni offices and research located in Discovery Hall, making this an attractive building on the Prince William Campus to target for information and technology.” The 2007 PhD student biodefense student explained: “Discovery Hall currently has BSL 1, 2 and 2+ labs in which students work with attenuated and vaccine strains of Fracella tularemia, anthrax and HIV. GMU will eventually have new biological labs featuring a BSL-3 lab which will have anthrax and tularemia.”

          Instead of starting a center from scratch, GMU chose to join forces with Dr. Alibek and Dr. Bailey’s existing research firm, Hadron Advanced Biosystems Inc. Hadron was already working under contract for the federal government, having received funding from DARPA. Dr. Alibek told the Washington Post that he and Bailey had spent their careers studying an issue that only recently grabbed the country’s attention, after the anthrax mailings the previous fall. Dr. Bailey and Alibek met in 1991, when a delegation of Soviet scientists visited USAMRIID at Ft. Detrick. Dr. Bailey explained that the purpose of the tour was to show the Soviets that the US was not developing offensive biological weapons. Bailey said he tried to engage Alibek in conversation but Alibek remained aloof. Alibek, for his part, explains that he was suspicious of this American smiling so broadly at him. A year later, Alibek would defect to the US and reveal an illegal biological program in the Soviet Union of a staggering scope. Alibek says that one reason he defected was that he realized that the Soviet intelligence was wrong — that the US research was in fact only defensive.

          Former USAMRIID Deputy Commander and Acting Commander Ames researcher Bailey coinvented, with Ken Alibek, the process to treat cell culture with hydrophobic silicon dioxide so as to permit greater concentration upon drying. He was in Room 156B of GMU’s Discovery Hall at the Center for Biodefense. The patent application was filed March 14, 2001. Rm 154A was Victor Morozov’s room number when he first assumed Timimi’s phone number in 2004 (and before he moved to the newly constructed Bull Run Hall). Morozov was the co-inventor with Dr. Bailey of the related cell culture process under which the silica was removed from the spore surface.

          One ATCC former employee felt so strongly about lax security there the scientist called me out of the blue and said that the public was overlooking the patent repository as a possible source of the Ames strain. ATCC would not deny they had virulent Ames in their patent repository pre 9/11 (as distinguished from their online catalog). The spokesperson emailed me:

          “As a matter of policy, ATCC does not disclose information on the contents of its patent depository.” Previously, though, the ATCC head publicly explained that it did not have virulent Ames.

          George Mason University, Department Listings, accessed August 17, 2003, shows that the National Center For Biodefense and Center for Biomedical Genomics had the same mail stop (MS 4ES). The most famed bioweaponeer in the world was not far from this sheik urging violent jihad in an apocalyptic struggle between religions. Dr. Alibek’s office was Rm. 156D in Prince William 2. The groups both shared the same department fax of 993-4288. Dr. Alibek advises me he had seen him several times in the corridors of GMU and was told that he was a religious muslim hard-liner but knew nothing of his activities. At one point, Timimi’s mail drop was MSN 4D7.

          Charles Bailey at 3-4271 was the former head of USAMRIID and joined the Center in April 2001. He continued to do research with Ames after 9/11. Dr. Alibek reports that shortly after the mailings, he wrote FBI Director Mueller and offered his services but was advised that they already had assembled a large group. A 2004 report describes research done by Dr. Alibek and his colleagues using Delta Ames obtained from NIH for a research project done for USAMRIID. There were two grants from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency from 2001. One $3.6 million grant dated to July 2001 and the other was previous to that.

          Ali Al-Timimi had the same telephone number that Dr. Victor Morozov of the Center for Biodefense would later have when he joined the faculty and occupied the newly constructed Bull Run Building, which opened in late 2004 (Rm. #362). Dr. Morozov focuses on the development of new bioassay methods for express analysis, high-throughput screening and proteomics. He has recently developed a new electrospray-based technology for mass fabrication of protein microarrays. Dr. Morozov is currently supervising a DOE -funded research project directed at the development of ultra-sensitive express methods for detection of pathogens in which slow diffusion of analytes is replaced by their active transport controlled and powered by external forces (electric, magnetic, gravitational or hydrodynamic). His homepage explains that: “A variety of projects are available for students to participate in “*** 7. Develop software to analyze motion of beads. 8. Develop software to analyze patterns in drying droplets. 9. Develop an electrostatic collector for airborne particles.”

          Al-Timimi obtained a doctorate from George Mason University in 2004 in the field of computational biology — a field related to cancer research involving genome sequencing. He successfully defended his thesis 5 weeks after his indictment. Curt Jamison, Timimi’s thesis advisor, coauthor and loyal friend, was in Prince William II (Discovery Hall) Rm. 181A. The staff of Advanced Biosystems was in Rm. 160, 162, 177, 254E and several others. Computational sciences offices were intermixed among the Hadron personnel on the first floor of Prince William II to include 159, 161, 166A, 167, 181 B and 181C. Rm. 156B was Charles Bailey, former commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, who was head of the Center for Biodefense. Defense contractor Hadron had announced the appointment of Dr. Bailey as Vice-President of Advanced Biosystems in early April 2001.

          “Over 13 years, Dr. Bailey had served as a Research Scientist, Deputy Commander for Research, Deputy Commander and Commander at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute. As a USAMRIID scientist, he designed and supervised the construction of BL-3 containment facilities. His hands-on experience with a wide variety of pathogens is chronicled in 70 published articles. During his 4 years with the Defense Intelligence Agency, he published numerous articles assessing foreign capabilities regarding biological weapons.” When I asked Dr. Bailey to confirm Al-Timimi’s room number relative to his own, his only response was to refer me to University counsel. Counsel then never substantively responded to my inquiry regarding their respective room numbers citing student privacy. Ali’s friend and thesis advisor, Dr. Jamison never responded to an emailed query either. GMU perhaps understandably was very nervous about losing the $25 million grant for a new BL-3 regional facility to be located very near our country’s capitol.

          The reports on the study on the effectiveness of the mailed anthrax in the Canadian experiment was reported in private briefings in Spring and Summer of 2001. An insider thus was not dependent on the published report later that Fall. (The date on the formal report is September 10, 2001).

          Dr. Charles Bailey for DIA wrote extensively on the the biothreat posed by other countries (and presumably terrorists). He shared a fax number with Al-Timimi. What came over that fax line in Spring and Summer of 2001? At some point, Dr. Al-Timimi, Dr. Alibek and Dr. Bailey also shared the same maildrop. It certainly would not be surprising that the two directors who headed the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense — and had received the biggest defense award in history for work with Delta Ames under a contract with USAMRIID — would have been briefed on the threat of mailed anthrax. The 1999 short report by William Patrick to Hatfill at SAIC on the general subject was far less important given that it did not relate to actual experimental findings.

          Plus, it is common sense that while someone might use as a model something they had surreptitiously learned of — they would not use as a model something in a memo that they had commissioned. Thus, it was rather misdirected to focus on the 1999 SAIC report commissioned by Dr. Hatfill rather than the 2001 Canadian report. The Canadian report related to the anthrax threat sent regarding the detention of Vanguards of Conquest #2 Mahjoub in Canada. Mahjoub had worked with al-Hawsawi in Sudan (the fellow with anthrax spraydrying documents on his laptop). The anthrax threat in late January prompted the still-classified Presidential Daily Brief (“PDB”) in early February 2001 by the CIA to President Bush on the subject.

          In Fall 2001, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (”AFIP”) had detected silicon dioxide (silica) and silicon in the attack anthrax — with a characteristic big spike for the silicon. No silica was observable on the SEMs images that Dr. Alibek and Dr. Matthew Meselson saw. The Daschle product was “pure spores.” Was silicon dioxide used as part of a microdroplet cell culture process used prior to drying to permit greater concentration? As explained in a later related patent, the silica could be removed from the surface of the spore through repeated centrifugaton or an air chamber.

          Dr. Alibek and Dr. Bailey had filed a patent application in mid-March 2001 involving a microdroplet cell culture technique that used silicon dioxide in a method for concentrating growth of cells. The patent was granted and the application first publicly disclosed in the Spring of 2002. Weren’t the SEMS images and AFIP EDX finding both consistent with use of this process in growing the culture? It’s been suggested informally to me that perhaps the silicon analytical peak was due to silanol from hydrolysis of a silane, used in siliconizing glassware. But didn’t the AFIP in fact also detect oxygen in ratios characteristic of silicon dioxide? Wasn’t the scientist, now deceased, who performed the EDX highly experienced and expert in detecting silica? Hasn’t the AFIP always stood by its report. In its report, AFIP explained: “AFIP experts utilized an energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer (an instrument used to detect the presence of otherwise-unseen chemicals through characteristic wavelengths of X-ray light) to confirm the previously unidentifiable substance as silica.” Perhaps the nuance that was lost — or just never publicly explained for very sound reasons — was that silica was used in the cell culture process and then removed from the spores through a process such as centrifugation. The applicants in March 2001 for an international patent relating to vaccines were a leading aerosol expert, Herman R. Shepherd, and a lonstanding anthrax biodefense expert, Philip Russell.

          Dr. Morozov is co-inventor along with Dr. Bailey for a patent “Cell Culture” that explains how the silicon dioxide can be removed from the surface. Perhaps it is precisely this AFIP finding of silicon dioxide (without silica on the SEMs) that is why the FBI came to suspect Al-Timimi in 2003 (rightly or wrongly, we don’t know). The FBI would have kept these scientific findings secret to protect the integrity of the confidential criminal/national security investigation. There was still a processor and mailer to catch — still a case to prove. After 9/11, intelligence collection takes precedence over arrests. As Ron Kessler explains in the new book, Terrorist Watch, many FBI officials feel that they are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. Outside observers are constantly second-guessing them about how to proceed rather than trusting that they are in the best position to balance the competing considerations of national security, intelligence gathering, the pursuit of justice, and the safeguarding of civil liberties. Above all, in disclosing the theory of access to know-how, the FBI has needed to protect the due process rights of Al-Timimi while he defended himself on other charges.

          An example from October 2006 of equipment that went missing from GMU’s Discovery Hall was a rotissery hybridization oven belonging to the Center for Biomedical
          Genomics. “This equipment can be used to manufacture biological agents and genetically modified agents, which could potentially be used as biological weapons,” Corinne Verzoni explained in her PhD 2007 thesis. “Upon hearing about instances or missing equipment in Discovery Hall, the author contacted campus security who was unaware of instances of missing equipment. Missing equipment should be reported to the equipment liaison. Missing equipment may not be reported to campus security because labs tend to share equipment. Equipment also goes missing because it is not inventoried if it is under $2,000.”

          One of her other examples was equally dramatic:

          “A DI system is a de-ionized water system, which removes the ions that are found in normal tap water. The assistant director for operations noticed the DI system in Discovery Hall was using the entire 100 gallons in two days, which is an enormous amount of water for the four DI taps in the whole building. According to the assistant director for operations, it is difficult to calculate the reason for that much water since no leak was found. A large amount of water used over a short period of time for unknown reasons could indicate that the research is being conducted covertly.”

          “A student with legitimate access to Discovery Hall,” she explained, “has easy accessibility to equipment. A student with access to the loading dock could steal equipment on the weekend when campus security is not present in Discovery Hall. A
          student could also walk out of the entrance with equipment on the weekend without security present.” She concluded: “The events at GMU demonstrate opportunity to create a clandestine lab, the ability to sell items illegally, or the ability to exploit school equipment.” In a late September 2001 interview on NPR on the anthrax threat, Dr. Alibek said: “When we talk and deal with, for example, nuclear weapons, it’s not really difficult to count how much of one or another substance we’ve got in the hands. When you talk about biological agents, in this case it’s absolutely impossible to say whether or not something has been stolen.”

          Al-Timimi’s prosecution was emand so that the defense could be given an opportunity to discover any documents that existed prior to 9/11 about al-Timimi and to address an issue relating to NSA intercepts after 9/11. Ali’s defense counsel explained to the federal district court, upon a remand by the appeals court, that Mr. Timimi was interviewed by an FBI agent and a Secret Service agent as early as February 1994 in connection with the first World Trade Center attack. The agents left their business cards which the family kept. Defense counsel Johnathan Turley further explained that “We have people that were contacted by the FBI and told soon after 9/11 that they believed that Dr. Al-Timimi was either connected to 9/11 or certainly had information about Al Qaeda.”

          Al-Timimi worked for SRA in 1999 where he had a high security clearance for work for the Navy. At a conference on countering biological terrorism in 1999 sponsored by the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. Dr. Alibek was
          introduced by a former colleague of Dr. Bailey:

          “Dr. Llewellyn: This is rather strange because I just met Dr. Alibek today. He was introduced to me by Dr. Charlie Bailey, who now works for SRA. But Charlie and I were associated with the Army Medical Research and Development Command Defense Program for over 20 years.”
          When I emailed Dr. Bailey in December 2007 to confirm Ali had the room right near his at Discovery Hall and whether he had worked with Al-Timimi at SRA he politely referred me to counsel and took no questions. Dr. Alibek and Dr. Popov have told me that Ali is not known to have worked on any biodefense project. Dr. Popova told me I should direct any such questions to Dr. Bailey. Dr. Bailey told me I should direct any questions to University counsel. University counsel declined to answer any questions.

        • DXer said

          Jason Bannan, a lead FBI Amerithrax scientist, should be asked by GAO whether it is true that Ali Al-Timimi had unfettered access to the patent repository at American Type Culture Collection, as claimed to me by a whistleblower who was fired from there as soon as she complained about the lax security. A PhD/ JD with BL3/BL4 experiment, the issues she raised were precisely the issues that should have been addressed BEFORE the anthrax mailings.

          Further, there should be no more withholding of information about Ali Al-Timimi’s infiltration of the DARPA-funded Center For Biodefense. As I mentioned, I have been in touch with a whistleblower and other scientists from there for years — since 2003. Dr. Bannan was a collections scientist in the Bacteriology division and thus would be intimately familiar with security of the patent repository there.

    • DXer said

      AFIP October 25, 2001

      “The SPS02.88.01 sample had regions which exhibited the same set of elements found in SPS02.57.03, but there were generally on the larger aggregates within the sample. Many of the smaller pieces within the sample exhibited the main peak associated with silicon with very little oxygen as shown in the attached data sheet.”

  9. Anonymous said

    It helps to know the long history of events here.

    AFIP already determined that the New York Post sample was special in October, 2001. As well as containing silicon in the spore coat (similar to the Daschle powder) – they found a silicon-rich compound outside the spores. This compound contained about 30% silicon. (subsequently the bulk silicon content was measured at 10% – with 1-2% in the spores). Thus it follows that the identity of the material outside the spores is the SINGLE KEY FORENSIC clue in the entire investigation. This material was obviously responsible for creating the silicon in the spore coats.

    In April 2002 it was leaked that the material had, in fact, been identified – but at that time the government was not saying what it was:

    Then it was revealed that the identity of the material was “polymerized glass”:

    It should be noted that given the huge quantity of New York Post powder (around 1 gram) available for lab study, it would have been a trivial matter for a competent lab to precisely ascertain what type of “polymerized glass” was present – but these lab results have, to this day, continued to be withheld by the FBI.

    In November 2002 FBI lab Director Mueller revealed that reverse engineering experiments were being undertaken:

    He stated that “We are going into new territory in some areas.” Clearly they had known for months at that stage that the Leahy powder and New York Post powder contained 2% Si and 0.19% tin, 10% silicon and 0.65% tin respectively. Thus to perform reverse engineering they would have to deliberately add both silicon and tin in some meaningful way to create the same powders.

    This would be standard lab practice, and if that was not done, then the scientists involved should be fired for gross incompetence.

    Fast forward to today. We now know that the FBI misled Congress when answering the question on silicon content. Clearly they did not want to reveal that 10% silicon was found in the Post sample – that would not have fitted with their contrived theory that somehow Bruce ivins made it.

    The big question remains – why did the FBI do this?

    It’s now not a question of “if” they covered up what they knew – but why.

    All of this could be solved very quickly if the following steps are taken (which should have happened years ago in a proper investigation):

    (1) Obtain ALL lab reports made availavble to FBI (especially the ones identifying the precise polymerized glass)

    (2) Send the remaining NYP powder to a competent lab for independent analysis.

    (3) Perform reverse engineering using tin catalyzed silicone polymers as additives.

    • DXer said

      There is a wide consensus that the Silicon Signature, like the subtlis contaminant, could be highly probative and that there is nothing in that regard that points to Dr. Ivins.

      • DXer said

        Sent: Tuesday, December 12, 2006 12:32 PM
        To: ; Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID; ;
        Subject: Ivins Chemical Inventory-2006
        Chemical List is finished for Ivins. 01 Feb 2006

        silica tox bac
        silica gel bac bac12
        silicone log
        silicone fluid sf 96150 bac
        silicone vacuum grease bac

  10. Lew Weinstein said

    Two posts on EmptyWheel are worth reading …

    Nadler Wants to Know Why FBI Lied to Him about Anthrax

    The Circumstantial Case against Bruce Ivins Gets Weaker

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