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

* NEW BOOK by Laurie Garrett: I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks (July 18, 2011)

Posted by DXer on July 23, 2011



order Laurie’s book on amazon (Kindle $5.99) …

Product Description (by the author Laurie Garrett) …
For most of my adult life I have borne witness. It’s what I won a Pulitzer Prize for, years ago. I go to epidemics, wars, places where people are struggling to cope with disasters, and I carefully log the accounts and events, trying to represent the lives and experiences of others. The position of “outsider” is emotionally safe, even as agonizing events unfold.But I could not distance myself from the extraordinary sequence of events that fell on America, and especially my home town of New York City, in 2001. A decade later I am still trying to understand how the attacks on the World Trade Center and the anthrax mailings affected me, and those I love. I heard the first jet slam into the north tower of the World Trade Center, and from the rooftop of my apartment building watched the second commercial jet veer towards lower Manhattan, change its trajectory, and slice across the upper floors of the south tower. I was standing on the Manhattan anchorage of the Brooklyn Bridge when the first tower crumbled like a deflated accordion, spewing dust and debris in every direction and crushing the life out of thousands of people within.
And a month later, as people started falling ill from inhalation of anthrax spores, one of the nation’s top bioterrorism experts called me to warn that I was a likely target: Stop opening your mail.

The flow of these events, from the hijacking of four commercial jets on September 11th to the November death of an anthrax-infected Connecticut villager, took most of the world population from a remarkably united emotional and political place, to a deeply divided, frustrated, angry position. The arc of the response matters: It ultimately determined the course of historic events worldwide and tore America asunder, the people having lost trust in their government and without it, most forms of social cohesion. By the end of the winter of 2002 the arc had completed, from spectacular unity and confidence in governance to deep division and accusations of American arrogance. Through the frustrated anthrax investigations and drumbeats of war, the global community, especially Americans, moved in just a few months’ time from collectivism to fragmentation.

This book is structured in two parts. The first, THE END OF THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, is written in the present tense, describing almost hourly the events that unfolded primarily in Washington DC and New York City over 120 days in the fall and winter of 2001 and 2002. Each day is a chapter that opens with the actual diary entry that I sent on that date to a list of friends all over the world. The entry is followed by a detailed breakdown of the day’s events, unfolding like a novel.

Part two, NEW WORLD ORDER, details the repercussions of these events, transformations of critical government institutions, public health disasters, and what, in particular, the specter of terrorism meant for the American people. Revelations abound in this book, including:

• The bizarre chemistry of The Plume that rose from the burning crushed World Trade Center for four months, endangering the health of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers.
Evidence that al-Qaeda may have been behind the anthrax mailings.
• Devastating spending and restructuring followed the attacks, leaving the nation less prepared for terrorism ten years later, and broke.
Each incident following the opening of anthrax-laden letters reveals countless errors and misjudgments.
There was no “weapons-grade anthrax” in those letters – a finding with profound health and political implications.

Customer review by Larry Kramer …
Laurie Garrett is the premier science reporter in America, if not the world. Whatever she writes should be read. Whatver she says must be listened to. Indeed, if the world had listened to her warnings prior to every health catastrophe in the past forty years, the world would be in a lot healthier shape than the mess we are in now. She is indeed a prophet. She is indeed the very best. i cannot think of anyone who comes anywhere near her. Like all great writers, she truly bears witness, as great writers are meant to do and rarely do.
Customer Review by Leonard Cole …
More than a terrific book, “I Heard the Sirens Scream” is a monument to a period. Garrett began writing on the day the Twin Towers fell. She made her way into lower Manhattan that day and most other days during the next four months. From that vantage she wrote a daily missive, as she calls it, plying her skills as a premier reporter and science writer. But woven into commentaries of heroism and missteps are her freely expressed emotions. A reader cannot help but share Garrett’s grief about lost lives, her rage at the perpetrators, and pride in New York’s selfless rescue workers. Much of Garrett’s narrative is also devoted to the spread of anthrax spores via threat letters that were mailed in the wake of 9/11. The Capitol, Pentagon, Supreme Court, and Federal Reserve were closed because of suspected or actual anthrax contamination. Like those who unknowingly inhaled the poisonous bacteria, people near Ground Zero inhaled air filled with particles of glass and asbestos. Many firefighters, police, and other rescue workers later developed respiratory illnesses, apparently as a result of their exposure. They had not received special masks and protective gear because, as Garrett recounts, federal officials had falsely declared the air safe to breathe. Garrett laments most deeply the change that terrorism has wrought on our collective psyche. People never grow accustomed to fear, she writes. Our citizenry has been scarred emotionally by the terrorist experiences.  This compelling book is not to be missed.

One Response to “* NEW BOOK by Laurie Garrett: I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks (July 18, 2011)”

  1. DXer said

    In her new book, experienced science writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Laurie Garrett provides a much welcome overview of a range of important issues in advance of the GAO report in September.

    The book excels in its discussion of the NAS report and the strain of the virulent anthrax used in one or more of the Al Qaeda labs, for which Sufaat and his assistants were vaccinated. This was something that David Willman had totally avoided discussing.

    Laurie Garrett appears to recognize that an Ivins Theory merely Hatfill Theory Redux. The “Hatfill Theory” was part of the same unstoppable train wreck as the “Ivins Theory.” There was a change of cars (investigators), but it was the same flawed train of reasoning and the investigators never overcame the earlier truncated emphasis of the investigation.

    Anthrax Redux: Did the Feds Nab the Wrong Guy? March 24, 2011

    She recognizes that too much at stake to be content with the latest investigators’ position that they do not know the what, how or why of the anthrax mailings?

    She writes about the disparity in views between his counselor(s) and his those who knew but does seem to realize the key new information underlying that discrepancy.

    Dr. Ivins’ first therapist, Judith M. McLean, who writes of how she acquired her psychic abilities in her book available for sale on — from a being from another planet …

    In addition to helping the FBI with Amerithrax, the psychic relied upon the government prosecutors and investigators helped with 911 by her astral travelling and retrieval of etheric body parts at Ground Zero … She reports she was granted her psychic abilities by a being claiming to be an extraterrestrial …

    An experienced science writer, she discusses the FBI’s key genetics experts debunk the FBI’s argument that the genetics points to Ivins in particular.

    Claire Fraser-Liggett: the genetic analysis of the spores in Ivins’ flask do not indicate Ivins is guilty

    Disturbing questions haunt the anthrax killings inquiry

    I don’t see that she addresses the documentary evidence of Agent Lambert’s concern … that the compartmentalization of the investigative squads ordered by Director Mueller would prevent investigators from connecting the dots. But early on she had written for Newsday about the difficulties of coordinating a complex investigation between agencies.

    She does not note that Dr. Greg Saathoff, who gave the key psychiatric report about Dr. Ivins and after his death justified their approach arguing that Dr. Ivins likely was guilty, is a longtime partner of FBI Quantico and instead spins his report as independent.

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 23, 2011

    Ms. Garrett nowhere addresses the documentary evidence produced in May 2011 that now shows what Dr. Ivins was doing in the B3 and instead bought into the FBI’s mistaken narrative that Ivins had no reason to be in the B3 on those nights.

    Given her expertise lies in science writing, and she likely is not daunted by lab notebook pages, she could usefully turn to them now to our great benefit.

    Instead, she reiterates the FBI’s false claim that the time in the B3 was unexplained except that he was hanging out at the lab because of troubles at home (which was near the lab). Instead, it only strengthens Ms. Garrett’s argument to realize that these notes demolishes the FBI’s and Mr. Willman’s “Ivins Theory” … on the facts rather the bullshit theory he was “creepy.”

    How could the longtime FBI Quantico psychiatrists or the author not have requested from the FBI the record showing what Dr. Ivins was actually doing on the nights that the investigators, without basis, speculated he was making a powdered anthrax?
    Ms. Garrett, to my eye, nowhere notes or even mentions that anthrax in the New York Post letter was 10% silica or silicates but importantly does emphasize that the government had long been told that if they find the person growing anthrax in silicates, they may have found their perpetrator. If she had interviewed Dr. Jahrling, her report on his views might be more current.

    The Technical Review Panel Summary notes that the NY Post sample had apparently been treated with hydrophilic silica. The term “weaponization” is used as a straw man to avoid the potential key probativeness of the silicon signature.
    She seems to agree that the USG does not explain how Dr. Ivins’ processing could have resulted in the Silicon Signature.
    To credit that the silicon signature did not relate to “weaponization” – as Laurie and many of us do — does not avoid the fact that it is potentially highly probative, and without more tends to be exculpatory of Dr. Ivins. For example, if it relates to “microencapsulation” using hydrophilic silica, that might be a huge lead.
    It is important to recognize that none other than government-funded experts Weber and Velsko, key experts on the nonmicrobiological signature signature, think that further study is warranted to determine the source of the Silicon Signature.

    She nowhere mentions the 302 interview statement that checking the health of the animals typically would take 2 hours and was a one person job. This is important background in understanding the lab notes produced on May 11, 2011.

    Given that the news just broke, she does not address the sworn deposition testimony in the Stevens v. United States case of Patricia Worsham or Stephen Little casting doubt on the FBI’s Ivins Theory. But does quote many of the same scientists like Dr. Andrews, Adamovicz and Heine to persuasive effect.

    She does not address the fact that US Attorney Taylor in explaining Ivins’ overtime in Fall 2001, including November and December, did not realize that new rules in 2002 precluded such overtime, working alone in B3. In his FOIA to the Army, David Willman did not seek access records from the earlier or later period and I don’t see that Ms. Garrett submitted any FOIAs to Army (and I don’t know offhand about DOJ).

    Source: “An eye on safety” by Alison Walker …
    “Better enforcement … In 2002, USAMRIID officials mandated a two-person rule, which creates peer pressure to follow safety protocol by requiring material be handled by two people of equal experience, training and qualification. USAMRIID is phasing out the rule due to space and staff limitations, replacing the physical presence of another person with video surveillance.”

    She does not mention, but it is important to note, that Dr. Ivins had no access to the filters and thus there would have been traces in the filters if the anthrax had been made in that B3.

    She explains he was taking anti-depressants. Note that according to this email, Dr. Ivins was not in fact taking the sleeping aid ambien in Fall 2001.

    She does not address the weaponized anthrax that Dr. Ivins says he had heard had been shipped to Ft. Detrick and then went missing.

    I don’t see that she anywhere addresses that USAMRIID’s John Ezzell, the FBI’s anthrax expert, prior to 9/11, made a dried aerosol using Ames supplied by Bruce Ivins and sent to Johns-Hopkins Applied Physics. She never addresses whether those spores show a silicon signature.“murder-weapon”-to-borrow-us/

    Where does she address Ivins’ email of 6-28-05 that discusses powder deemed closest to attack anthrax … in which Ivins says, “but I told ??? we didn’t make spore powder”

    She nowhere addresses the email in which Dr. Ivins discusses missing Ames anthrax.

    Who was the FBI’s anthrax expert who told Dr. Ivins not to get his “panties in a bind over this”?

    She nowhere addresses the fact that the FBI removed the original of Lab Notebook 4010 (and other notebooks that were subpoenaed) without leaving a copy. Why won’t the FBI produce the relevant pages from the lab notebooks it took?

    She nowhere explains that Daniel Seikaly pled the Fifth Amendment in connection with the leaks relating to Hatfill or notes that his daughter represented “anthrax weapons suspect” Ali Timimi pro bono.
    She nowhere addresses why the US Attorney and AP created the impression that the Federal Eagle stamp was uniquely sold in Ivins’ post office (near USAMRIID) when it in fact was sold throughout Maryland and Virginia. This misstatement by the US Attorney (picked up by AP) was as great as any misstep in connection with a “Hatfill Theory”.
    She nowhere addresses why the FBI failed to disclose that the photocopier mentioned in the Amerithrax Summary could be excluded as the source of the Amerithrax letters. That is the sort of evidence that makes for a strong scientific case — or demolishes one. This is different from the less the much less significant issue of “tracks” made by the photocopier gripper.

    The best I recall, she nowhere addresses why the FBI let USAMRIID General John Parker’s false claim that USAMRIID did not make dried powder stand — when the FBI and the scientists overseeing the investigation knew its own expert had made dried powdered aerosol using Ames.

    She nowhere addresses the identity of the colleague with whom Dr. Heine says he did research regarding antifoam in creating aerosols or Dr. Heine’s report that the FBI falsely told Dr. Ivins that Dr. Heine had accused him of the anthrax mailings. This is a huge issue because the investigators then used Dr. Ivins’ rage as proof of his guilt — rather than evidence of his innocence.

    She nowhere addresses why the FBI never disclosed the email withheld for 2 years that shows Dr. Ivins knew that 5 ml of virulent Ames had been taken from Building 1412.

    She nowhere addresses the email asking about weaponized anthrax that came to Detrick and then was shipped out and some was missing.

    She does not emphasize that the FBI estimates that up to 377 had access required elimination (allowing for some duplication who had access in both 1425 and 1412). US Taylor falsely claimed that only 100 needed to be eliminated — only those with access at Building 1425.

    Although she may not get into the particulars, she does a good job on the issue of genetics and speaks with authority on such issues — but she does not discuss the reason the location of the flasks (initially there were two flasks) was carefully whited out so as to change its location from Building 1412 to Building 1425. That change violated USAMRIID protocol about record-keeping.

    She nowhere addresses to whom Dr. Ivins was writing about the Ames missing from building 1412 and the autoclaving of samples there.

    She does a good job in summarizing the NAS report about Ames and the genetics — but nowhere addresses what happened to the other slant sent from Texas, or interviews the original researcher who obtained the slants from Texas who then went to work for the CIA. She is critical of the destruction at Ames, Iowa that the FBI allowed.

    She nowhere addresses Dr. Ivins’ concern expressed to a superior that he was missing samples — only to be told to shut up. He never identifies the superior telling Ivins that everything was under control.

    She nowhere addresses when Southern Research Institute first obtained virulent Ames and from whom.

    She nowhere addresses where the research on the corona plasma discharge and sonicator on Ames spores supplied by Bruce Ivins was conducted for DARPA. She nowhere addresses where else the DARPA aerosol studies using dried powder were done. Given the performance of the dried aerosol, the technical question of whether the floatability is due to use of a CPD or sonicator should be addressed by the scientific experts.

    She nowhere addresses the fact that the only expert interviewed by the FBI about the code in the letters for which documents were produced disagreed with the FBI’s theory of code in the letters and that all the letters needed for the FBI’s interpretation of the code were NOT in fact double-lined. Once this understood, one realizes what a crock of a case the FBI concocted.

    She nowhere addresses why the FBI was asking everyone whether they had seen olive oil in one of the aerosol rooms.

    But she has a pretty full and fair summary of the history of The Hatfill Theory. On a very narrow issue, she does not addresses whether olive oil was what the bloodhounds smelled at Denny’s when the FBI assumed they were tracking Steve Hatfill who had visited the day before.

    She discusses some PA scientists that otherwise don’t get often addressed — it was evident very early on that there was no “there there” and so bloggers never paid it attention. Notably, she does discuss David Tell’s article on Syed Athar Abbas which remains fascinating to this day.

    She nowhere addresses the 16 pages which were not obtained by the FBI until February 2005 — those pages involved distribution of Ames to a former Zawahiri associate. I don’t mind reporters don’t write of such things — indeed, given the history that Amerithrax took with the hyping of the Hatfill story by the chief prosecutor whose daughter came to represent Ali Al-Timimi, I totally understand it. But the fact that they don’t make relevant phone calls supports the view that investigative reporting is dead in this country. Nowadays, writing up a filed court document or reading documents the FBI submits to NAS is deemed a substitute. For broadcast, getting interviews of people journalists have quoted suffices. And of course, when you are channeling investigators, interviewing the dead guy’s prom date is what passes for investigation. Heaven forbid that someone would pick up the phone and seek an interview with Rauf Ahmad who was working with Dr. Zawahiri.’-rmr-1029-anthrax-more-questions-for-um-and-lsu-researchers/

    She nowhere addresses the work that Yazid Sufaat and his lab assistant did at Omar Hospital in May 2001 while the equipment was en route to the lab being established at Kandahar. And I believe mistakenly refers to the second lab being at Tora Bora rather than Kandahar. ( But I am open to being corrected. I believe my source is the DIA interrogator of Dr. Batarfi as well as the numerous Detainee Assessments from Guantanamo.)

    The Detainee Assessments on this subject are part of the public record and so why did they not inform the discussion? Is the GAO report going to be similarly bereft of highly relevant information?

    She nowhere addresses that FBI experts found that Dr. Ivins handwriting does not match the handwriting in the anthrax letters but is understandably highly skeptical of the FBI’s sorority theory.

    Don’t get me wrong. On her overall approach to an Ivins Theory, I totally agree with her. I just am using this approach to assessing the book to highlight uploaded documentary evidence that can further advance things.

    She nowhere addresses a “Waly Samar” who was a microbiologist connected to the WTC 1993 participants based on phone records and reportedly lived in the Trenton area in 2001 — an estimated 20 miles from the mailbox. I called and left a message last week but hadn’t hear back when I last checked for messages.

    And, again, it is totally understandable for a journalist and so this is not a fault for a science journalist. It all comes down to one’s personal assessment about what is at stake. And I think on that question — what is at stake — I agree with Laurie 100%.

    She nowhere addresses the claim that a pharmacist Najmut Tariq in New York City was connected to Al Qaeda anthrax program and apparently no effort was made to contact him in Pakistan. But again, the public benefits by the view of an experienced science writer on the NAS report and conclusions. But someone like the Wash Po correspondent in Pakistan should attempt an interview.

    She does not address the FBI was able to exclude Abderraouf Yousef Jdey as the mailer if the FBI doesn’t know where he was and, according to former top CIA analyst Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Jdey was released before the mailings. She mainly bears down on the NAS report discussion of Al Qaeda and does not delve into issues of intelligence analysis.

    Intelligence analysis, for example, would point out that Dr. Assaad was Coptic Christian and the Blind Sheik’s group primary mission is to persecute Coptic Christians. For people to miss this is to miss the possible significance of that anonymous letter that some view as an intentional “red herring” pointing to Dr. Assaad. (Dr. Assaad, for his part, thinks that the claims against Dr. Ivins are part of a vicious plot).…-who-was-the-real-anthrax-mailer-the-key-people-in-the-anthrax-mailings-were-not-bruce-ivins-or-steven-hatfill-his-predecessor-as-the-fbis-target-instead-they-app/

    She nowhere addresses experiments led by Egyptian Abu Khabab killing rabbits with poisons under during the month before 9/11 at a camp outside Kabul.

    She nowhere addresses the training in late 2001 at the training camp outside Kandahar to introduce poison into water systems.

    She nowhere addresses the capture of Mustafa Hawsawi and his laptop containing anthrax spray drying documents.

    In her notes she cites both the good work done by the McClatchy journalist and the Wired journalist.

    You’ll recall that it was McClatchy that emphasized the potentially critical importance of b. subtilis contaminant found in the Brokaw and New York Post anthrax letters … not connected to Dr. Ivins … and substantially ignored by the FBI. The public is expecting great things from McClatchy/Frontline/ProPublica.

    She nowhere addresses the fact that Anwar Aulaqi was coordinating with Ali Al-Timimi who shared a suite with the two leading Ames researchers.

    She nowhere addresses the documents from peer reviewed literature in Ayman Zawahiri’s possession.

    She nowhere addresses the spraydrying documents on Al-Hawsawi’s laptop.

    She nowhere addresses Rauf Ahmad’s notes and handwritten letter (he was one of the scientists working for Ayman Zawahiri).

    She nowhere addresses the typed correspondence from a later visit by Rauf Ahmad indicating that he had successfully achieved the targets. (And, no, Milton L. did not systematically refute the matter in discussing the correspondence in his book – he avoided quoting this critical language altogether!)

    She nowhere addresses Ali Mohammed, the head of intelligence for Egyptian Islamic Jihad who had a document on his computer seized by the FBI that outlined principles of cell security that would be followed, trained Dahab, a Cairo medical drop-out, to make deadly letters.

    She nowhere addresses the Egyptian visitor in the B3 who was the lifelong friend of a former Egyptian Islamic Jihad member, a schoolmate, recruited by Ayman Zawahiri.

    She nowhere addresses the fact that Dr. Bruce Ivins hosted one Egyptian visitor in the B3 who was the lifelong friend of a former Egyptian Islamic Jihad member, a schoolmate, recruited by Ayman Zawahiri and that the FBI not obtain the relevant documents until February 2005.

    She nowhere addresses the fact that this document seized in Afghanistan pointed to infiltration of US biodefense. To what was the author referring?

    She nowhere addresses this Zawahiri correspondence with infiltrating scientist that was part of parallel compartmentalized cell operation. Who else did Ayman attempt to recruit (besides the schoolmate and close friend of Bruce Ivins’ co-worker)?

    She nowhere addresses the documents dating from April 1999 showing that Ayman Zawahiri’s plan was to recruit a specialist. Who else did Ayman Zawahiri succeed in recruiting?

    She nowhere addresses the fact that the lifelong friends of Dr. Tarek Hamouda, supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins, actively denounce their former medical school associate Ayman Zawahiri as a fanatic – one serving as President of CAIR-St. Louis and the other as author of INSIDE JIHAD. After the FBI first obtained in 2005 the documents relating to Dr. Hamouda’s work with Dr. Ivins, did they contact Dr. Hamid who reports he was recruited into the Egyptian Islamic Group by Ayman Zawahiri while in medical school? Did they contact his brother who publicly announced that he could not identify a sleeper cell if he did not know about it?

    She nowhere addresses why the FBI failed to disclose that Jdey was detained and released as the same time as Moussaoui.

    She nowhere addresses the fact that Ayman Zawahiri had an extensive recruiting network for his anthrax planning and the announcement of his plans in March 1999, including the blind sheik’s son who spoke alongside Ali Al-Timimi and was on Al Qaeda’s 3-member WMD society. Did the blind sheik’s son recruit Ali Al-Timimi?

    She nowhere addresses the fact that Ayman Zawahiri used “school” to refer to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad but does poke fun at the FBI’s theory as to why “school” was used.

    She nowhere addresses the documentary evidence showing that Ayman Zawahiri used “school” as code and not Bruce Ivins.

    She nowhere addresses the fact that while the US government focuses on Anwar Al-Aulaqi, the media continues to overlook Aulaqi’s connection to fellow Falls Church imam, a scientist sharing the suite with the leading bioweapons Ames anthrax researchers with whom defense counsel says Aulaqi was coordinating.

    She nowhere addresses the fact that Ali Al-Timimi had unfettered access to the largest microbiological repository in the world where the bacteriology collection scientist was the future head of the Amerithrax science investigation who would guide the NAS review and the production of documents from the FBI to NAS.

    Even with all the important factual issues she did not reach, she gets an A+ on Point of View.

    And given the credibility she brings to the table as a science writer with experience in covering Amerithrax, she deserves an A+ and not merely an A.

    Essentially, the book asks: given all the uncertainties, isn’t there a very real chance that an Ivins Theory is just a Hatfill Theory redux — and had the same effect of narrowing the investigative focus? (She suggests FBI higher-ups by Spring of 2002 never meaningfully pursued an Al Qaeda theory.

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