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

* The DOJ should disclose under FOIA the 2004 article provided by Dr. Bruce Ivins to the FBI regarding silica and Bacillus spore suspensions

Posted by DXer on May 31, 2011



30 Responses to “* The DOJ should disclose under FOIA the 2004 article provided by Dr. Bruce Ivins to the FBI regarding silica and Bacillus spore suspensions”

  1. DXer said

    DXer said
    February 2, 2020 at 12:21 pm
    Franklin Stahl commented on * NAS anthrax panel meetings – links for audio provided by NAS

    “Why do none of the discussants mention the 2006 paper from IIBR scientists on the use of magnetized silica to concentrate anthrax spores? (Magnetized silica is silica-encapsulated iron.) Such a method fixes silica and iron to the spores in a fixed ratio while the amount will vary among the spores. A corollary question: Why is Israel NEVER mentioned as a potential source of the spore preps?”

    I’m so sorry but although I now have moderator duties, I don’t recall my password to approve comments, and am fighting fires here in other matters. But while I try to figure out my password, I have cut and pasted above this comment by Franklin Stahl. From a quick google, he appears to be an extremely distinguished molecular biologist. Read Wikipedia to see major scientifc awards associated with the name.

    Dr. Dany Shoham, I recall you had a comment recently that I similarly failed to successfully approve.

    Dany, what is the answer to Stahl’s comment? Although I am not all scientifically trained, it really resonates with me — this notion of magnetized silica to concentrate anthrax spores.

    FWIW, Dr. Stahl, if I have the right person, seems to know Matthew Meselson, who played a role in commenting on this issue of the “Silicon Signature”. In making the comments, he teamed with (or agreed with) Ken Alibek in early stages of the investigation. (They said that the silica did not relate to floatability; and my expert, Dr. Kiel, would agree with them.)

    I was just speaking to the fellow doing a documentary about whether the silicon dioxide or salinizing agent might have been used in the solution, with a fluidized bed dryer used (rather than, for example, a Bucchi mini-spraydryer, as I initially suspected). I told him he should be relying on people who actually made dried anthrax or anthrax simulant for biodefense purposes — like Dr. John Kiel. Over the years, I relied and adopted the views of Kiel in all respects.

    If I am remembering things correctly after all these years, the iron in the lung makes the anthrax more deadly. And the silica serves to prevent the anthrax from being destroyed by sunlight or destroyed easily by enzymes.

    I also adopted the view of Alibek to the limited extent that he reasoned that a sophisticated product could result from a simple method. (See also his patent for concentrating anthrax using silica in the growth medium). The genius would lie in figuring out the simple method. That method then could simply be transmitted to another, such as processing tricks submitted by email to someone met at a conference. (See Rauf Ahmad documents).

    As for Dr. Meselson, I approached his comments with skepticism due to the incident in Russia and the incredulity that DIA analysts had after a meeting on the subject. (Condolences to Dr. Meselson upon the passing of his gracious and learned wife who wrote a book on this subject of Amerithrax). But I think anyone interested in the science should go and find the article that Franklin Stahl references. (And, again, apologizes, for my inept moderating of the blog.)

    Franklin Stahl of course is qualified to discuss these issues whereas I most certainly am not.

    FWIW, Dr. Alibek has gotten into some legal difficulties after he left the US. Although he was a pleasure to consult with, he certainly leaves a lot of froth in his wake. And in his various past lives — such as the former head of Russian’s clandestine bioweapons program — he has certainly been adept at hiding the ball. He shared a suite with a convicted seditionist and was an aerosol consultant for Battelle in connection with Ames anthrax.

    p.s. It may be no small coincidence that Franklin Stahl is a MacArthur genius.

    p.s.s. If I have said anything that is classified or discussed, you have my consent to delete it by whatever means — including a simple emailed request.

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

  2. DXer said

    Efforts To Prevent Misuse Of Biomedical Research Fall Short

    September 14, 20173:04 PM ET

    Nell Greenfieldboyce

    “One of the things that would promote greater attention to some of these issues would be the kind of unfortunate incident that we would not like to have happen,” notes Varmus, who adds, “It’s part of our public responsibility as scientists to provide, at least, fora in which such discussions can occur.”

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

  3. DXer said

    GAO’s analysis could have the greatest effect simply through obtaining and disclosing key information. For example, Dr. Ivins helped the FBI and provided them an article about someone’s research involving adding silica to the spore coat. (This is what was observed in the mailed anthrax and was an important potential forensic lead). The abstract may very well be in the DTIC or SCOPUS or Pubmed or other database. GAO should identify by citation this article about adding silica to the spore coat that Dr. Ivins provided the FBI. The fact that he was so helpful on the issue and that it was added to the spore coat (just as Dr. Ivins ventured) tends to be hugely exculpatory of Dr. Ivins.

  4. DXer said

    J Appl Microbiol. 2014 Apr 1. doi: 10.1111/jam.12509. [Epub ahead of print]
    Standard Method For Deposition Of Dry, Aerosolized, Silica-Coated Bacillus Spores Onto Inanimate Surfaces.
    Harnish D1, Heimbuch BK, McDonald M, Kinney K, Dion M, Stote R, Rastogi V, Smith L, Wallace L, Lumley A, Schreuder-Gibson H, Wander JD.
    Author information

    To evaluate a standard aerosolization method for uniformly depositing threat-representative spores onto surfaces.

    Lyophilized B. anthracis ΔSterne spores, coated in silica, were aerosolized into a containment chamber and deposited onto nine surface types by two independent laboratories. Lab A produced a mean loading concentration of 1.78 x 105 CFU cm-2 ; CV was <40% for 96% of samples. Lab B produced a mean loading concentration of 7.82 x 106 CFU cm-2 ; 68% of samples demonstrated CV <40%.

    This method has been shown to meet the goal of loading threat-representative spores onto surfaces with low variability at concentrations relevant to the Department of Defense.


    As demonstrated in 2001, a biological attack using anthrax disseminated as a dry powder is a credible threat. This method will provide a means to load spores onto surfaces that mimic a "real-world" scenario of an aerosolized anthrax attack. The method has utility for evaluating sporicidal technologies and for non-decontamination studies, e.g., fate and transport or reaerosolization. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

    This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

    Aerosol, Anthrax, Antimicrobial, Bacillus, Bioaerosol, Deposition, infectious agents, spores

    Author Information
    1Applied Research Associates, Engineering Science Division, Panama City, FL
    2U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center, Natick, MA
    3Biodefense Branch, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, MD
    4Air Force Research Laboratory, FL
    * Corresponding author:
    430 W 5th St, Ste 700
    Panama City, FL 32401
    (850) 914-3188

    This article has been accepted for publication and undergone full peer review but has not been through the copyediting, typesetting, pagination and proofreading process which may lead to differences between this version and the Version of Record. Please cite this article as an ‘Accepted Article’, doi: 10.1111/jam.12509

    • DXer said

      The authors write:

      “Although the primary use of biological agents is to cause infection, a secondary consequence is denial of access to contaminated infrastructure, demonstrated by the 2001 anthrax attacks, after which multiple buildings were closed for months during decontamination. (Cantor, 2004) For this attack, the biological agent was delivered as an aerosolized powder, the expected route of dissemination for future anthrax attacks. Further treatment of the biogent (e.g., applying a uniform charge to the particles, adding a fluidizing agent, can enhance the ability of the powder to disperse by inhibiting particle agglomeration (Matsumoto, 2003), as observed in the 2001 anthrax attacks.”

  5. DXer said

    An automated front-end monitor for anthrax surveillance systems based on the rapid detection of airborne endospores

    Author(s): Yung, PT (Yung, Pun To); Lester, ED (Lester, Elizabeth D.); Bearman, G (Bearman, Greg); Ponce, A (Ponce, Adrian)

    Source: BIOTECHNOLOGY AND BIOENGINEERING Volume:98 Issue:4 Pages:864-871 DOI:10.1002/bit.21466 Published:NOV 1 2007

    Abstract: A fully automated anthrax smoke detector (ASD) has been developed and tested. The ASD is intended to serve as a cost effective front-end monitor for anthrax surveillance systems. The principle of operation is based on measuring airborne endospore concentrations, where a sharp concentration increase signals an anthrax attack. The ASD features an air sampler, a thermal lysis unit, a syringe pump, a time-gated spectrometer, and endospore detection chemistry comprised of dipicolinic acid (DPA)-triggered terbium ion (Tb3+) luminescence. Anthrax attacks were simulated using aerosolized Bacillus atrophaeus spores in fumed silica, and corresponding Tb-DPA intensities were monitored as a function of time and correlated to the number of airborne endospores collected. A concentration dependence of 10(2)-10(6) spores/mg of fumed silica yielded a dynamic range of 4 orders of magnitude and a limit of detection of 16 spores/L when 250 L of air were sampled. Simulated attacks were detected in less than 15 min.

  6. DXer said

    GAO should upload a copy of the Geisbert photos that have now been provided to it — along with a transcribed interview of Dr. Geisbert. (I would think that consistent with GAO rules the photos can be made an exhibit to the interview).

    Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
    Caveats: NONE

    Mr. __________,

    The USAMRIID PAO did a thorough search and was unable to locate the Geisbert’s photos — sorry to not respond sooner.


    • DXer said

      The October 15, 2012 FOIA request stated:

      “Please do a search for the following described photo: Geisbert’s pictures of the anthrax skulls. (Staffers had passed them around.) He pointed out the fried-egg goop flowing off the spores in some of the photographs. This, he said, is probably an additive.”

  7. DXer said

    Biofouling: The Journal of Bioadhesion and Biofilm Research

    Volume 5, Issue 4, 1992

    The influence of hydrophobic, electrostatic and morphologic properties on the adhesion of Bacillus spores

    pages 335-344

    Publishing models and article dates explained
    Received: 28 Oct 1991
    Accepted: 14 Jan 1992

  8. DXer said

    Biosecur Bioterror. 2012 Aug 7. [Epub ahead of print]
    Reaerosolization of Bacillus spp. in Outdoor Environments: A Review of the Experimental Literature.
    Layshock JA, Pearson B, Crockett K, Brown MJ, Van Cuyk S, Daniel WB, Omberg KM.


    Julie A. Layshock, PhD, is a Principal Research Scientist, Analytical and Environmental Chemistry Department, Battelle, Inc., Duxbury, Massachusetts. Brooke Pearson, PhD, is a Senior Scientist, Information Operations Division, Cubic Applications, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia. Kathryn Crockett, PhD, is a Senior CBRN Analyst, Chemical/Biological Analysis Center, The Tauri Group, Alexandria, Virginia. Michael J. Brown, PhD, Sheila Van Cuyk, PhD, and W. Brent Daniel, PhD, are Research Scientists; and Kristin M. Omberg, PhD, is Division Leader, Decision Applications Division; all at Los Alamos National Laboratory , Los Alamos, New Mexico .


    Reaerosolization or resuspension-that is, the reintroduction of previously airborne particles into the atmosphere-is a complex phenomenon. Microbial reaerosolization is particularly poorly understood because few studies have been done in this area, and many of the studies that have been performed are not in the peer-reviewed literature. The reaerosolization of Bacillus anthracis in outdoor environments is of particular concern because of its stability and potential for use as a biological weapon. This review pulls together data from more than 30 publications, spanning field and laboratory experiments, to summarize the current state of our understanding of Bacillus spp. reaerosolization in outdoor environments.


    Kathryn Crockett, PhD, is a Senior CBRN Analyst, Chemical/Biological Analysis Center, The Tauri Group, Alexandria, Virginia would be a fascinating interview.

    Kathryn Crockett, Ken Alibek’s assistant — just a couple doors down from Ali Al-Timimi — addressed this issue of microencapsulation in her 2006 thesis, “A historical analysis of Bacillus anthracis as a biological weapon and its application to the development of nonproliferation and defense strategies.” She expressed her special thanks to bioweaponeering experts Dr. Ken Alibek and Dr. Bill Patrick. (Dr. Patrick also reviewed the 1993 OTS report). Dr. Patrick consulted with the FBI in Amerithrax. Dr. Crockett successfully defended the thesis before a panel that included USAMRIID head and Ames strain researcher Charles Bailey, Ali Al-Timimi’s other Department colleague. In 2001 he said he did not want to discuss silica because he did not want to give terrorists any ideas. Oops! Too late. The scientist coordinating with the 911 imam and Bin Laden’s Sheik was in the same suite, just a few feet away. In contrast, in their book published in July 2012 on the Soviet bioweapons program, Leitenberg and Zlinskas did not find anyone indicating that microencapsulation had been successfully done with biological agents. In following up and kicking the tires of the authors conclusion (as ML has always encouraged me to do), Dr. Crockett would be a useful interview on the subject.

    Dr. Crockett in her PhD thesis says that scientists who analyzed the powder through viewing micrographs or actual contact are divided over the quality of the powder. She cites Gary Matsumoto’s “Science” article in summarizing the debate. She says the FBI has vacillated on silica. The AFIP data, if released, would point to the high level of silica in the first batch of letters. The FBI’s science investigation is being led by Jason Bannan, the former collections scientist at the Bacteriology Division at the American Type Culture Collection which, located at GMU, co-sponsored Al-Timimi’s program and later successfully bid on the Critical Reagent Program handling virulent Ames for government researchers.

    On the issue of encapsulation, Crockett reports that “many experts who examined the powder stated the spores were encapsulated. Encapsulation involves coating bacteria with a polymer which is usually done to protect fragile bacteria from harsh conditions such as extreme heat and pressure that occurs at the time of detonation (if in a bomb), as well as from moisture and ultraviolet light. The process was not originally developed for biological weapons purposes but rather to improve the delivery of various drugs to target organs or systems before they were destroyed by enzymes in the circulatory system” (citing Alibek and Crockett, 2005). “The US and Soviet Union, however, ” she explains, “used this technique in their biological weapons programs for pathogens that were not stable in aerosol form… Since spores have hardy shells that provide the same protection as encapsulation would, there is no need to cover them with a polymer.“ She explains that one “possible explanation is that the spore was in fact encapsulated but not for protective purpose. Encapsulation also reduces the need for milling when producing a dry formulation.”

    The former State Department analyst, Ken Dillon, PhD, notes:

    “Interested readers should study the contributions of Barbara Hatch Rosenberg (Sept. 9) and Serguei Popov (Sept. 24) at I find quite intriguing Rosenberg’s reference in footnotes 21 and 22 of her analysis to U.S. Patent Application number 09/805,464 by Charles Bailey and Ken Alibek, March 14, 2001. The patent (#6,649,408) was issued on Nov. 18, 2003. Silica is mentioned repeatedly in the patent, and the instructions look very much like they could have been used by the preparer of the anthrax in the letters. Rosenberg suggests that the patent application was available to 100+ potential anthrax attack suspects well before the anthrax attacks, but it is not clear that the application was made public before the attacks started.” Dr. Popov does not dismiss the possibility but instead refers to it merely as “hypothetical.”

    One military scientist who has made anthrax simulants described the GMU patents to me as relating to a silicon encapsulation technique which serves to increase the viability of a wide range of pathogens. Sandia’s Joe Michael, on the other hand, Dr. Bannan’s consulting expert on the issue, in contrast reports he has no idea what purpose the silicon absorbed in the coat would serve. It is odd that the FBI would turn to someone with no experience or training in the relevant field to provide expert opinion on such an issue. His expertise was limited to identifying the location of the silicon signal. Sandia scientists in their public comments seemed to be making inferences and conclusions about whether the silica would be useful in making mailed anthrax — and whether it would be highly probative — that went beyond both their field of expertise and the data apparently available to them. Their powerpoints seemed solid and conservatively framed in the conclusion drawn — their public comments did not. To the press and oral statements to the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Michael waxed broad again in a way that goes beyond his field and beyond his data.

    I find Peter Setlow’s commentary on the recent Japanese article about silicon encapsulation to be thoughtful and would have preferred that he address the issue before the NAS.

  9. DXer said

    As an example of breakthrough reporting that come result from a simple inquiry, there seems to be no justification for this published article from being withheld. The article involves adding silica to the spore coat. It was forwarded by Dr. Ivins to the FBI after he was given the abstract. The reporter could then go to the researchers who did that and obtain their insights on the issue, to include whether Dr. Ivins was technically able to do it. It is my understanding that the article involves the process of microencapsulation. The article is not classified. It seems a “smoking gun” that is exculpatory of Dr. Ivins. The article was given to him by someone who seems to have about 15 letters in the person’s first and last name.

  10. DXer said

    Consider the claim by Al Qaeda regional commander at Tora Bora that Al Qaeda has used anthrax in improvised explosive devices.

    Wouldn’t anthrax be destroyed in an explosion absent use of silica? Hasn’t Dr. Ken Alibek explained that protection from destruction upon explosion is a central purpose of adding silica to the coat by incorporation in the growth medium? (In addition to protection from explosion, microencapsulation prevents the anthrax from being destroyed by sunlight.)

    • DXer said

      Didn’t anthrax expert Muklis Yunos explain this all to the CIA in interrogation? (He was arrested on May 25, 2003).

      We’ve seen that Yazid Sufaat was never meaningfully interrogated by the FBI. There was a perfunctory 30 minute interrogation — 11 months after his capture — in which Yazid declined to reveal that he had been part of Malaysia’s biological weapons program.

      Was the FBI similarly deprived of knowing about the anthrax expertise of explosive expert Muklis Yunos?

      The FBI said the reason it refused to produce documents to NAS about overseas testing was to avoid embarrassment to a foreign country. What country is that? Jordan for interrogating Hambali who led investigators to the extremely virulent Ames in Afghanistan in August 2003? Malaysia who had an offensive program before ratifying the treaty in which Al Qaeda anthrax lab director was trained? Or Pakistan which recently sentenced the doctor who helped the US with Osama Bin Laden to 33 years in prison.

      Is the DOJ concerned with avoiding embarrassment to another country? Or are they merely avoiding embarrassment to the investigators who failed to disclose Dr. Ivins work with the rabbits in their investigative summary. And then premised an Ivins Theory on the claim that his time in the lab was unexplained.

      Is the DOJ concerned with avoiding embarrassment to another country? Or are they merely avoiding embarrassment to the investigators who relied on a central witness who says she was controlled by an alien who had implanted a microchip in her butt. She says the alien gave her instructions each night.

      Dr. Scott Decker (Amerithrax 2001-2007) has now moved on. Can he tell us more about the lab contamination that the FBI says explains the positive results relating to the remains of the hijacker who had the leg lesion after coming from Kandahar? Kandahar is where Yazid says he had his lab and where IED expert Muklis Yunos received his anthrax training.

  11. DXer said

    Infect Immun. 2012 Feb 21. [Epub ahead of print]

    Updating perspectives on the initiation of Bacillus anthracis growth and dissemination through its host.
    Weiner ZP, Glomski IJ.

    Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Cancer Biology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.

    Since 1957 it has been proposed that the dissemination of inhalational anthrax required spores to be transported from the lumen of the lungs into the lymphatic system. In 2002 this idea was expanded to state alveolar macrophages act as a “Trojan horse” capable of transporting spores across the lung epithelium into draining mediastinal lymph nodes. Since then the Trojan horse model of dissemination has become the most widely cited model of inhalational infection as well as the focus of the majority of studies aiming to understand events initiating inhalational anthrax infections. However, recent observations derived from animal models of B. anthracis infection are inconsistent with aspects of the Trojan horse model and imply that bacterial dissemination patterns during inhalational infection may be more similar to the cutaneous and gastrointestinal forms than previously thought. In light of these studies it is of significant importance to reassess the mechanisms of inhalational anthrax dissemination, since it is this form of anthrax that is most lethal and of greatest concern when B. anthracis is weaponized. Here we propose a new “jailbreak” model of B. anthracis dissemination which applies to dissemination of all common manifestations of the disease anthrax. The proposed model impacts the field by deemphasizing the role of host cells as conduits for dissemination and increasing the role of phagocytes as central players in innate defenses, while moving focus towards interactions between B. anthracis and lymphoid and epithelial tissues.

    Comment: I played “epithelialized” across a TW/TW/TW at a scrabble tournament recently for a winning total of 9,683 points across three rounds in team play at a literacy fundraiser.

    Click to access 2012-SCRABBLE-Mania-Team-Scores.pdf

    So not all this science about anthrax is useless esoterica. Understanding the Silicon Signature could be as simple as the FBI complying with the FOIA request pending for a year now for the 2004 article submitted by this blog’s graphic artist. The GAO should make it a point to obtain the article and report its title and substance. It may be important in assessing the Silicon Signature.

    • DXer said

      Infect Immun. 2012 Jan;80(1):234-42. Epub 2011 Oct 17.
      Antibacterial role for natural killer cells in host defense to Bacillus anthracis.
      Gonzales CM, Williams CB, Calderon VE, Huante MB, Moen ST, Popov VL, Baze WB, Peterson JW, Endsley JJ.
      Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Sealy Center for Vaccine Development, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX, USA.

      Natural killer (NK) cells have innate antibacterial activity that could be targeted for clinical interventions for infectious disease caused by naturally occurring or weaponized bacterial pathogens.

      • DXer said

        Biosecur Bioterror. 2011 Sep;9(3):239-50. Epub 2011 Aug 5.
        Public response to an anthrax attack: reactions to mass prophylaxis in a scenario involving inhalation anthrax from an unidentified source.
        SteelFisher G, Blendon R, Ross LJ, Collins BC, Ben-Porath EN, Bekheit MM, Mailhot JR.
        Harvard Opinion Research Program, Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management, Kresge, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

        An attack with Bacillus anthracis (“anthrax”) is a known threat to the United States. When weaponized, it can cause inhalation anthrax, the deadliest form of the disease. Due to the rapid course of inhalation anthrax, delays in initiation of antibiotics may decrease survival chances. Because a rapid response would require cooperation from the public, there is a need to understand the public’s response to possible mass dispensing programs. To examine the public’s response to a mass prophylaxis program, this study used a nationally representative poll of 1,092 adults, supplemented by a targeted focus on 3 metropolitan areas where anthrax attacks occurred in 2001: New York City (n=517), Washington, DC (n=509), and Trenton/Mercer County, NJ (n=507). The poll was built around a “worst-case scenario” in which cases of inhalation anthrax are discovered without an identified source and the entire population of a city or town is asked to receive antibiotic prophylaxis within a 48-hour period. Findings from this poll provide important signs of public willingness to comply with public health recommendations for obtaining antibiotics from a dispensing site, although they also indicate that public health officials may face several challenges to compliance, including misinformation about the contagiousness of inhalation anthrax; fears about personal safety in crowds; distrust of government agencies to provide sufficient, safe, and effective medicine; and hesitation about ingesting antibiotic pills after receiving them. In general, people living in areas where anthrax attacks occurred in 2001 had responses similar to those of the nation as a whole.

        • DXer said

          The forthcoming report by GAO promises to be a watershed if GAO is in a position to reach out to experts. For example, GAO will be in the position to obtain the expertise of many military scientists including those at Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

          J Thorac Imaging. 2006 Nov;21(4):252-8.
          Inhalational anthrax.
          Frazier AA, Franks TJ, Galvin JR.

          Department of Radiologic Pathology, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC 20306, USA.


          Inhalational anthrax is a lethal infection acquired from the inhalation of Bacillus anthracis, a pathogen classified as a Category A bioterrorist agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The recent 2001 attack in which weaponized spores were delivered by mail to several US cities exposed our vulnerability to bioterrorism, and taught us important lessons in the timely diagnosis of this devastating disease. It is clear that patient mortality is significantly decreased by early recognition and immediate administration of antibiotic therapy. Unfortunately, the nonspecific clinical presentation is often misinterpreted as a flu-like illness and confirmatory microbiologic tests may take up to 24 hours. Radiologic manifestations, however, are distinctive and may prove essential in directing appropriate clinical care in the critical early hours of inhalational anthrax.

        • DXer said

          Ann Intern Med. 2005 Apr 19;142(8):601-10.

          Cost-effectiveness of defending against bioterrorism: a comparison of vaccination and antibiotic prophylaxis against anthrax.
          Fowler RA, Sanders GD, Bravata DM, Nouri B, Gastwirth JM, Peterson D, Broker AG, Garber AM, Owens DK.

          Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


          Weaponized Bacillus anthracis is one of the few biological agents that can cause death and disease in sufficient numbers to devastate an urban setting.

          To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of strategies for prophylaxis and treatment of an aerosolized B. anthracis bioterror attack.

          Decision analytic model.

          DATA SOURCES:
          We derived probabilities of anthrax exposure, vaccine and treatment characteristics, and their costs and associated clinical outcomes from the medical literature and bioterrorism-preparedness experts.

          Persons living and working in a large metropolitan U.S. city.

          TIME HORIZON:
          Patient lifetime.



          We evaluated 4 postattack strategies: no prophylaxis, vaccination alone, antibiotic prophylaxis alone, or vaccination and antibiotic prophylaxis, as well as preattack vaccination versus no vaccination.

          Costs, quality-adjusted life-years, life-years, and incremental cost-effectiveness.

          If an aerosolized B. anthracis bioweapon attack occurs, postexposure prophylactic vaccination and antibiotic therapy for those potentially exposed is the most effective (0.33 life-year gained per person) and least costly (355 dollars saved per person) strategy, as compared with vaccination alone. At low baseline probabilities of attack and exposure, mass previous vaccination of a metropolitan population is more costly (815 million dollars for a city of 5 million people) and not more effective than no vaccination.

          If prophylactic antibiotics cannot be promptly distributed after exposure, previous vaccination may become cost-effective.

          The probability of exposure and disease critically depends on the probability and mechanism of bioweapon release.

          In the event of an aerosolized B. anthracis bioweapon attack over an unvaccinated metropolitan U.S. population, postattack prophylactic vaccination and antibiotic therapy is the most effective and least expensive strategy.

          Comment: It seems superficial not to factor in the cost of a U-Haul. Something like 80% of Canadian population 100 miles from the US border. Maybe they could just scooch over.

          But what’s at stake, for example, counseled that the psychiatrists advise the federal district court that they had relied on — as their central witness — the woman who claimed in 2009 book that in 2000 she was being controlled by an alien who had implanted a chip in her butt. She thought she was being pursued by nasty murderous astral entities attached to her clients — for which she would have to have emergency exorcisms when she got home from her part-time counseling gig.

          Amerithrax represents the greatest intelligence failure in the history of the United States.

          Someday your grandson may ask you: But what did you do AFTER the man committed suicide when you went to test the panties stained with semen.

    • DXer said

      J Natl Med Assoc. 2004 Mar;96(3):344-50.
      Anthrax in America 2001-2003.
      Joshi SG, Cymet HB, Kerkvliet G, Cymet T.
      Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland 21215, USA.
      Anthrax caused by Bacillus anthracis in humans is rare. Two recent outbreaks that were intentionally caused occurred among postal employees, politicians, and journalists in the United States. This has caused tremendous fear, and our experience with these “anthrax incidents” has changed our views on the natural history of this disease in people. In this paper, we review the lifecycle and biology of this micro-organism. Anthrax that occurs from a weaponized form of this micro-organism has a specific clinical presentation that requires a suspicion of anthrax exposure to be diagnosed. New methods of testing for anthrax have been developed and may simplify diagnosis in the future. The range of illness caused by B. anthracis from the molecular level to the clinical symptoms is discussed. We also review the diagnostic criteria and differential diagnosis as well as treatment of this condition.

  12. DXer said

    Relatedly, GAO should be sure to obtain this document from FBI — notwithstanding FBI’s failure to provide it in response to a FOIA request last Spring.

    Dr. Ivins provided it to the FBI in assisting the FBI in understanding the importance of understanding the probative importance of the silicon incorporated into the spore coat (which of course had been highlighted by the forensics years earlier).

  13. DXer said

    The Sandia scientist says the silicon was in the coat. That is where Dr. Ivins said it would be if added pursuant to the method in the 2004 article that someone at USAMRIID had given him. JM from Sandia is not aware who authored the article or the method revealed. Thus he has no basis whatsoever that one “would expect” it be to be in the exosporium rather than the coat. To the contrary, the method that Dr. Ivins himself helpfully explained to the DOJ involves adding the silicon to the spore coat. Any journalist or scientist who has not requested the article should not even be speaking to the question.

    • BugMaster said

      Have the actual protocols that were used by the FBI to prepare the samples sent to Sandia ever disclosed?

      One needs such information regarding the sample prep to be able interpret the results of the sample analysis.

      Basic analytical science, BTW, fundamental!

  14. DXer said

    In February 2004, that Dr. Ivins was proposing work relating to vaccine resistance and focused on making the most stable spore possible. A superior counseled against it on the grounds that the public might misunderstand it and perceive it as “offensive work” by “Ivin the Terrorist.” Does the 2004 article that no one has bothered to obtain relates to microencapsulation … which results in a more stable spore?

    RE: Preproposal Wednesday, February 18, 2004 12:47:22 PM High

    Subject: Date: Importance:

    ( (b) (and others), b(6) )Should I just can the proposal/preproposal and ask to be “100%” on the vaccine resistance project? Do (you want all of the work to be dropped, or simply incorporated into another proposal? I didn’t think that this 6 would be viewed as an offensive “Offensive” proposal, but perhaps since I want to be able to make )the most virulent, purest, cleanest, most stable spores possible, it might be seen that way. Could I have some comments back on this (b) Also, could I get comments from others? If it really sounds like “Next…I want to learn how to(6) make POWDER!!!!!!”…then I’ll drop it altogether. I don’t need another round of questioning from our Friends as to why I want to develop souped-up anthrax spores.
    – Bruce —–Original Message—-From: (b) (6) Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2004 12:37 PM To: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID Cc: (b) (6) Subject: RE: Preproposal

    Bruce, the more I’ve thought about this the less I like it. I can’t make it tie in to any of our stated objectives or research gaps. Also, the plan just begs to be labeled “support service”. I also have a lurking fear that some may construe this as offensive work, even perhaps “Ivins the Terrorist” work. I would like you guys to do a group hug and come up with a different approach. The most obvious may be to deed the Vaccine resistance project back to Bruce. There are also possibilities under multi-agent vaccines for a live B.a. based platform or other projects under GET. If you use one or more of these projects to fly cover then (in a toned-down manner) you could integrate some of the pre-proposal as a supporting objective of another plan.

  15. DXer said

    When you hear any scientist or commenter discuss the silicon signature, ask them whether they FOIAed this document. If they didn’t, ask them why not.

    If it is a government scientist or DOJ prosecutor or spokesman, ask them to have it promptly produced.

    It is a waste of energy to discuss the silicon-tin signature without the benefit of the article.

    Anonymous, why didn’t you / the authors of the journal publication request a copy of this article under FOIA?

    It should only take a phone call by a journalist to the right scientist to get the citation to the published article.

    The DOJ should disclose under FOIA the 2004 article provided by Dr. Bruce Ivins to the FBI regarding silica and Bacillus spore suspensions

  16. DXer said

    Nostradamus in silica‎
    The Guardian (blog) – 21 hours ago

    Nostradamus in silico: can supercomputers really predict revolutions?
    Like Nostradamus the Nautilus supercomputer is brilliant at predicting events, as long as they have already happened

    The best predictions are always made in hindsight. Nostradamus achieved fame by writing down a lot of vague bollocks about the future, and relying on the human brain’s incredible ability to spot links and patterns – even where none exist – to do the rest. His legacy is a pile of prophecies that are absolutely brilliant at predicting events, as long as they have already happened.

    Now Nostradamus has a silicon rival, but while the French seer generated only 900 or so of his quatrains, the University of Tennessee’s “Nautilus” supercomputer is capable of spewing out countless millions of predictions – enough to keep an army of cherry-pickers beavering away from now until eternity.

    Nautilus trundles through hundreds of millions of news articles, applyingsentiment analysis algorithms and place name detection to take a subject and correlate it to a location and a general mood. The theory goes that if “Brad Pitt” is mentioned in lots of French articles alongside positive words like “great” or “brilliant” then the French people must love him, but if “Hosni Mubarak” is associated with “evil” or “horrible” then it’s boom-time for Egyptian pitch-fork manufacturers.

    The researcher behind this, Kalev Leetaru, of the University of Illinois, Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciencespeculated in his recent paper that by mining this information the system could predict anything from “forecasting impending conflict to offering insights on the locations of wanted fugitives.”

    These claims were amplified by the BBC, who score many bonus points for linking to the actual paper(!), but immediately lose them for using the phrase “scientists say” to refer to a single researcher (presumably they forgot to update their template) and for failing to explain that you probably have more chance of predicting Hosni Mubarak’s next bowel movement than this supercomputer does of anticipating future revolutions.

    I’m not a big fan of sentiment analysis, because every time I try to use it in a practical situation the results that come back are obviously, spectacularly wrong. To illustrate the problem, here’s one I just did for mentions of ‘Dorries’ – a term some of you may be familiar with – on Twitter (you can see a longer version here).


    Tone of coverage mentioning Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Summary of World Broadcasts 1979–2011. The Y-axis shows standard deviations from the mean. (Source)

    You can see this problem in the paper. A chart (shown above) shows a big negative shift in reports about President Mubarak ahead of Egypt’s revolution, as you’d expect. This is cited as evidence that negative shifts like this could predict revolution, but sentiment was even worse in 1981 when he started his 30-year reign. Were articles about Mubarak then really negative about him, or were they just negative in tone because they set his rise to power in the context of the assassination of his predecessor, President Sadat?

    No attempt is made to investigate the correlation between these shifts in sentiment and subsequent revolutions. Sure, with hindsight we can see that Egypt’s revolution followed a downward trend in media sentiment, but sentiment is very noisy, the scale of the shift is no worse than that seen in the USA between the late 60s and early 70s, and we didn’t see a revolution there. Until someone can determine the probability of down trends preceding revolutions across a decent-sized sample, this is just subjectively interpreted anecdata.

    What about the claim that this tool could predict the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden? The author tells us that:

    “While far from a definitive lock on Bin Laden’s location, global news content would have suggested Northern Pakistan in a 200 km. radius around Islamabad and Peshawar as his most likely location, and that he was nearly twice as likely to be making his residence in Pakistan as Afghanistan.”

    Visualization of geocoded Summary of World Broadcasts content, 1979–2011, mentioning “bin Laden”. (Source)

    I don’t doubt this, but I don’t see that it’s particularly useful or significant result either. A circle of radius 200km covers an area more than 125,000 square kilometers in size. The CIA located bin Laden to within a single compound, so I’m not sure they’ll be rushing to pick up the phone. In any case, the paper fails to explain why an arbitrary range of 200km is a significant result, or to show why deploying a supercomputer is more effective than just asking a journalist who covers the beat.

    The results presented in this paper don’t really make much sense until a human comes along, looks at events, looks at the data, and subjectively interprets the crap out of them until they fit. It’s all very interesting, and I don’t want to disparage the author because they’ve generated a lot of very interesting data, but there isn’t a single result in this work that demonstrates any ability to predict events – largely because no attempt at a serious statistical analysis has been made.

    That’s fine, it’s a speculative result, but it’s a shame the Beeb didn’t pick up on this when they decided to run the story under the completely misleading headline ‘Supercomputer predicts revolution’. Like Nostradamus, the predictions of Nautilus are only really successful in hindsight.

  17. DXer said


    Why haven’t you requested a copy of this pubilshed article under FOIA?

    Professor Guillemin, in her lucidly written book, writes:

    “”Michael’s findings convinced two major proponents of the silica coating theory — USAMRIID virologist Peter Jahrling and journalist Gary Matsumoto — to change their minds. In addition to an earlier statement to the press, Jahrling took the microphone at the ASM meeting and affirmed Michael’s research to the audience. Mastumoto, who was also at the meeting, waited until the press briefing afterward, when a critic challenged Michael’s results. The dissenter was not alone. A contingent of about a dozen USAMRIID scientists, unhappy with the session, crowded at the open door to the small, windowless briefing room, and one young institute microbiologist, without a press pass had wanged a seat inside. But the burly Matsumoto intervened with a raised hand. “No, his research stands,” he said, indicating Michael, who stood tensely before the group, his back literally against the wall, “There’s no coating.”

    Under the Microdroplet Cell Culture patent (the application for which was at his shared maildrop in March 2001, silicates in the medium is used to concentrate the anthrax.

    The WMD chief Majidi says the forensics are consistent with the anthrax being grown in silicates.

  18. DXer said

    Professor Jeanne Guillemin, in her lucidly written book, states:

    “During his time with the United Nations in Iraq, Burans had acquired the real thing, Iraqi anthrax spores with bentonite added, which were stored at the Naval Research Center in Silver Spring. Why not compare them to the Daschle spore material? When they examined the two side-by-side, Wilson and Burans found that the Daschle spores were clean, whereas the Iraqi samples clearly had been mixed with bentonite “clay.” (p. 111)

  19. DXer said

    The same head of the military aerosol lab long ago told me that the “Microdroplet Cell Culture” patent involving silica that arrived in Al-Timimi’s mailbox in Spring 2001 was a microencapsulation patent. Dave Willman never thought to ask and report Dr. Bailey’s view on the Salafist-Jihadi convicted of sedition whose room was just 2 feet away and yet he had repeated interviews with Dr. Bailey.

  20. DXer said

    How can any investigative reporter write on the subject of Ivins and/or the silicon signature without having taken the 5 seconds necessary to request the article under FOIA?

  21. DXer said

    The head of one military aerosol lab suggests to me today that it would likely be an article similar to this:

    The Silicon Layer Supports Acid Resistance of Bacillus cereus Spores
    Received 21 July 2009/Accepted 20 October 2009

    Silicon (Si) is considered to be a “quasiessential” element for most living organisms. However, silicate
    uptake in bacteria and its physiological functions have remained obscure. We observed that Si is deposited in
    a spore coat layer of nanometer-sized particles in Bacillus cereus and that the Si layer enhances acid resistance.
    The novel acid resistance of the spore mediated by Si encapsulation was also observed in other Bacillus strains,
    representing a general adaptation enhancing survival under acidic conditions.

    Another that he cites as example is this:

    Encapsulated in silica: genome, proteome and physiology of the thermophilic bacterium Anoxybacillus flavithermus WK1.

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