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

Archive for August 19th, 2011

* October 2001 BATTELLE REPORT TO DIA ON LETHAL INHALATION DOSE (provided to DXer today under FOIA)

Posted by DXer on August 19, 2011


Authors: Barnewall, Roy, James Estep, and Robert DeBell. 2001.









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* Minutes of Meeting Produced Under FOIA To DXer Today Report On Experiment Dr. Ivins Was Conducting On Nights The DOJ Speculated, Without Basis, That He Was Making a Dried Powder And DOJ Claimed, Without Basis, That Dr. Ivins Had No Reason To Be In Lab

Posted by DXer on August 19, 2011


IT WASN'T IVINS ... and the FBI must by now know that they drove the wrong man to suicide



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* A detailed analysis of Jeanne Guillemin’s new book AMERICAN ANTHRAX by DXer …

Posted by DXer on August 19, 2011


Jeanne Guillemin, Matthew Meselson, American Anthrax


In her new book, experienced sociologist specialized in biodefense matters provides another much welcome overview of a range of important issues in advance of the GAO report in September.

  • The book excels in its readability in addressing the investigation.  The strong point in Laurie Garrett’s book, in contrast, was a more detailed and incisive discussion of the NAS findings.

  • Professor Guillemin’s overall conclusion is that we may never know the perpetrator of the anthrax mailings.  Let’s hope she’s wrong and the GAO is more able to be more probing due to its greater access to materials.
  • Laurie Garrett appeared 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.  Professor Guillemin’s value judgments are less sharply felt — or at least better disguised in an approach that comes across as academic.

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

  • Laurie Garrett recognized that too much is at stake to be content with the latest investigators’ position that they do not know the what, how or why of the anthrax mailings.  In contrast, Professor Guillemin emphasizes the lack of acknowledgment of the lapse in biosecurity. (She draws from her own experience with the investigation of Sverdlosk and the lack of forthright acknowledgment of responsibility).

The New York Times review of her book on Sverdlosk had complained that it was neither a detective story or a scientific paper.   The response at the time in one letter to the editor was that should not matter:  the author is still highlighting an important issue and providing a valuable historical narrative.   The same criticism and the same response apply to AMERICAN ANTHRAX.

On the other hand, given the importance of solving the mystery, this blog favors reaching the critical true crime facts as revealed by documents.

For example, the investigators were privately convinced of Dr.  Ivins’ guilt partly because of what they learned in mid-July from the notes from Dr. Ivins’ first counselor.  Those claims were heavily relied upon by a panel of psychiatrists led by the psychiatrist who had guided the FBI’s approach to Ivins.

The investigators and psychatrists in 2008 could not have known that in 2009 Dr. Ivins’ first therapist, Judith M. McLean, would write of how she acquired her psychic abilities in her book available for sale — 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 …

I am still waiting for the author or journalist that interviews the members of the EBAP panel that relied on the first counselor — to see if they say “oopsie.”

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.

In fact, the Professor is perhaps too refined to get into matters relating to semen stained panties that were the subject of the FBI’s DNA swabbing in July 2008 and threat to call Dr. Ivins’ family in front of the grand jury.
An experienced sociologist married to an eminent biodefense scientist who consulted for the FBI in this matter, Professor Guillemin knowledgeably describes the cast of characters.  She does not get into the details to the extent of press this Spring did on the genetics, where the FBI’s own experts explained the holes in the FBI’s case.

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

Like Laurie Garrett, I don’t see that Professor Guillemin 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.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 23, 2011

  • Professor Guillemin 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.  I am less interested in an academic saying the perpetrator may never be identified than some journalist writing up the notes that were withheld for three years (along with other even more revealing lab notes).

Given Laurie Garrett’s 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.  Similarly, given Professor Guillemin’s vast contacts among FBI and non-FBI biodefense experts, she too could provide credible discussions of what the notes (and notes still to be released) reveal.

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?  This is too intrusive question for a refined academic to ask.

Professor Guillemin has an interesting detail in which she notes that the DRES biodefense researchers — who had shown that mailed anthrax immediately dispersed from the envelope and travelled across the room — briefed a military audience at the time the anthrax was being discovered at the Senate building.  While  I don’t think it material to the true crime analysis, it is interesting to see the fresh (to me) detail.  As another example, she notes Ben Garrett’s expertise at the FBI prior to 9/11, pointing out another possible interview that the GAO should have conducted.

  • Professor Guillemin, 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.  On the silica issue, she returns us to the days of what I’ll call the Meselson v. Matsumoto debate… when 7 years later discussion should have moved on to what I’ll call the Velsko/Weber position.  Both government consultants, they say that given its probative importance, the issue and reason for the Silicon Signature needs to be further explained.
Writers and journalists need to leave behind the Meselson/Matsumoto/Spertzel framing of the issue — it obscures rather than illuminates.  If a journalist is not interviewing and citing the Lawrence Livermore experts Weber and Velsko, then you are living in the past.  Indeed, to be expert on the issue, one needs to have actually done controlled experiments with and without silicon such as John Kiel, head of the Air Force lab.  So at the end of the day I favor the view of Professor Guillemin’s co-author on Sverdlosk — Martin Hugh-Jones.  It is not to say that Professor Guillemin is mistaken in what she says, it is that she is missing the point.  The Silicon Signature needs to be understood because it is potentially highly probative.  The “Red Team” conclusion should not have been so readily accepted.  (Moreover, those experts should have been identified consistent with FOIA).


The Technical Review Panel Summary notes that the NY Post sample had apparently been treated with hydrophilic silica. The term “weaponization” is used by Professor Guillemin as a straw man to avoid the potential key probativeness of the silicon signature.
She nowhere suggests that the USG has explained how Dr. Ivins’ processing could have resulted in the Silicon Signature.

  • To credit that the silicon signature did not relate to “weaponization” – as Professor Guillemin 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 the lead times involved in publishing, 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. She mentions the lyophilizer but does not address the Speed Vac.

Professor Guillemin 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 or Professor Guillemin 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.

Professor Guillemin does not address the weaponized anthrax that Dr. Ivins says he had heard had been shipped to Ft. Detrick and then went missing though she makes passing mention of CIA experiments involving Battelle and Dugway early on.   She mentions that James Burans learned how to culture anthrax from Dr. Ivins.  He was the lead Navy fellow and Al-Timimi had a security clearance to work on a Navy project while at SRA in 1999 — all this talk about missing weaponized anthrax prompts me to wonder what experiments the Navy was doing in Spring 2001.  I know (but perhaps shouldn’t) that there were aerosol experiments involving ships.  (I presume simulants but have no information; Greg Knudson, who had obtained the Ames originally, then went to work for NMRC and the CIA, I believe.

  • At page 214 she explains 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.“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”

  • Who was the FBI’s anthrax expert who told Dr. Ivins not to get his “panties in a bind over this”?  Was that Dr. Jahrling rather than Dr. Ezzell as I had once inferred?

  • 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  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. On a minor note, she is mistaken that the inventory destroyed in Iowa was only a single sample (I interviewed the professors involved in the destruction).

  • 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.

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 nowhere uses the name Ayman Zawahiri — the man whose close associates had announced he was going to use anthrax against US targets to retaliate for the rendering and detention.  This sort of omission makes it a fine entry for a public library but not for anyone interested in determining whether Dr. Ivins in fact committed the crime.  … which should be the point of the entire exercise.  The book’s treatment is academic in the best and worst sense.
  • 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 that reporters and academic 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.

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 just as I did Laurie Garrett (although there are key differences in the approach of the two authors).

I  am using this approach to assessing the book to highlight uploaded documentary evidence that can further advance things.  Because determining the confidence level we should have in the FBI’s speculative Ivins Theory is very important.

Professor Guillemin 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 month but hadn’t hear back when I last checked for messages.

And, again, it is totally understandable for a journalist or sociologist and so this is not a fault. It all comes down to one’s personal assessment about what is at stake. And I think on that question — lapses in biosecurity — no one should disagree with the Professor.

Professor G. 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 someone like the Wash Po correspondent in Pakistan should attempt an interview.

  • She does not address how 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. 
  • 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 including JG 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.  Given that the recent claims about ricin and the lack of any direct evidence that the planning in fact related to bombs, this sort of consideration is very important in any book on the subject of biodefense and the threat faced by the country.

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

In her notes she relegates to passing mention in a footnotes the issue of  subtilis (see footnote to conclusion) that full deserved the much greater importance placed on the issues by the McClatchy 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 — let’s just hope on the silica issues they move things along to what should be the proper frame of the issue — the probative importance of the Silicon Signature.   The framing of the debate in 2003 missed the point entirely.  The key consideration is what processing might Dr. Ivins have used that would have resulted in the signature.

Professor G. nowhere addresses the fact that Anwar Aulaqi was coordinating with Ali Al-Timimi who shared a suite with the two leading Ames researchers. Heck, if she doesn’t so much as name the head of Al Qaeda’s specific anthrax planning and sending of scientists to attend USAMRIID conferences, this is not surprising.  But Rauf Ahmad’s attendance of Porton Down conferences is far more relevant to the issue of biosecurity — on which she organizes her thesis — than it is that Dr. Ivins attended a presentation she gave at Ft. Detrick on Sverdlosk in 2002.  People need to address the issue and stop being ostriches with their head in the sand.  That is precisely how lapses in biosecurity occur.

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. …

Essentially, Laurie Garret’s book asked: 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? (Laurie suggests FBI higher-ups by Spring of 2002 never meaningfully pursued an Al Qaeda theory.)  Professor Guillemin, in contrast, just sticks to very safe territory and the rubber never hits the road.  That serves very well for an academic overview that is well-suited to grace library shelves.  But what we need is investigative reporting and a GAO report that is written by investigators who understand the importance of obtaining the most probative documentary evidence — for example, emails.

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* September 11, 2001 “Strategic Plan – Anthrax” (produced today to DXer under FOIA)

Posted by DXer on August 19, 2011









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