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

* Washington Field memo (dated 9/11/06) produced today (10/5/11) to DXer under FOIA regarding what is known about distribution of virulent Ames known to have the 4 morphs … why did the one woman have the matching Ames sample? … she “can’t remember”

Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 4, 2011

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17 Responses to “* Washington Field memo (dated 9/11/06) produced today (10/5/11) to DXer under FOIA regarding what is known about distribution of virulent Ames known to have the 4 morphs … why did the one woman have the matching Ames sample? … she “can’t remember””

  1. DXer said

    Where did Project Coast get its virulent Ames? Did the FBI obtain a sample for testing pursuant to the offer in 2002?

    Details are emerging of the shadowy life of former South African Defence Force major-general Tai Minnaar, who died in suspicious circumstances last September.

    Minnaar was named this week as part of a team that claims to have documentary evidence showing that South African security forces carried out the 1986 murder of the Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme.

    On the night of September 9 Minnaar (62) died in the arms of his fiancée, Romay Harding, at his home in Pretoria. Harding is understood to be in hiding somewhere in the Cape.

    Though the official cause of death was noted as a heart attack, Harding told investigators that Minnaar had been vomiting before his death and that his corpse had swollen rapidly to more than double its normal size. She however declined to make a formal statement.

    The cremation of Minnaar’s body seems to have put paid to further investigation, but such swelling is characteristic of some of the exotic poisons Minnaar was alleged to be peddling in the months before his death.

    Early last year Minnaar had become involved in increasingly desperate attempts to do a deal involving substances and technology developed under South Africa’s once-secret and now notorious chemical and biological weapons programme, dubbed Project Coast, led by Wouter Basson.

    Project Coast was officially closed down in 1994 and its chemical and biological warfare products were supposedly destroyed to comply with international anti-proliferation treaties. Any access Minnaar had to anthrax spores could throw doubt on South Africa’s non-proliferation credentials.

    But back to the story: From November 2001, Minnaar, acting as a go-between for a group of former Project Coast scientists, tried to set up a series of commercial deals, beginning with two shady American agents allegedly claiming to represent the United States government.

    When that fell through it appears that Minnaar and some of his associates tried to hijack the process from the scientists, procuring first a German Nazi treasure hunter as a possible buyer and then, finally, someone Minnaar apparently believed to be an Arab sheikh. The “sheikh” turned out to be part of a police sting operation aimed at uncovering Minnaar’s activities.

    The case was closed when Minnaar died, though a kilogram of potassium cyanide – enough to poison a city – was found among other chemicals at his home, according to sources close to the police investigation.

    Daan Goosen, a former member of the Project Coast team involved in the saga, told the Mail and Guardian it all began legitimately enough with a trip early last year to the US research company Bioport, a privatised facility that has the exclusive contract to manufacture anthrax vaccine for the US government.

    Goosen, who made a detailed disclosure of his activities to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and was a state witness in the prosecution of Wouter Basson, has for some time been seeking legitimate avenues for some of his colleagues to use their skills for peaceful purposes.

    Anti-proliferation experts have long noted the dangers of leaving scientists with bio-war knowhow to fend for themselves after state programmes are ended – and Goosen admits that some of his former colleagues have fallen on difficult times.

    In the wake of the post-September 11 anthrax attacks in the US, therefore, Goosen says he made contact with the Pentagon to enquire about offering the services of former Project Coast scientists. He says he was referred to Bioport and undertook a trip there at the beginning of last year.

    The US company brushed off his offer of open co-operation, a response he found puzzling. “We looked at their problems. They were in a shambles in respect of anthrax. We thought we could assist them with antidotes, antiserums and a vaccine for anthrax.”

    On his return an acquaintance put him in touch with Minnaar, who was introduced as a man who had worked with the Central Intelligence Agency and who could provide access to the right people. Minnaar’s links with the CIA were well known in the intelligence community.

    During the Eighties he worked under cover in Cuba in what appears to have been a joint operation between the CIA and South African military intelligence. He showed Goosen an award he said he had received from the CIA for his services.

    Minnaar got in touch with two Americans, Don Mayes and Bob Zlockie, in March last year. Though Goosen met only Zlockie, both had the necessary pedigree for Goosen to believe they were acting as official US representatives.

    Intelligence contacts told Goosen that Mayes was a former CIA agent and that Zlockie was still with the organisation.

    The picture that has since emerged points to the possibility of something more sinister.

    The M&G has established that Mayes gained notoriety in the 1990s when he ran a company called Vector Microwave Research.

    In a 1998 article, The Washington Post stated: “For years, Vector had performed secret tasks for the CIA and the US military, using guile, experience and connections, including those of its president, retired Lieutenant-General Leonard Perroots, a former director of the US Defence Intelligence Agency.”

    The newspaper said Vector specialised in covertly acquiring foreign missiles, radar, artillery and other weapons for US intelligence agencies.

    At the time of the Post article, Mayes was suspected of conducting “unauthorised” side deals – a charge he successfully parried – raising the spectre that he could have been dealing with Goosen and Minnaar as a free agent.

    It is also understood that Mayes and Zlockie were both friends of Minnaar, having worked with him in South America in the 1980s.

    Questions to the CIA about Mayes, Zlockie and their activities in South Africa were unanswered at the time of going to press.

    Mayes could not be reached at his home in Florida. Zlockie told the M&G: “I have no interest in talking to you at all,” before putting down the phone.

    Goosen says he proposed that the Americans fund South African research to be conducted under the control of the civilian Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta. He claims that Zlockie insisted the work would have to be done in the US and would have to be covertly funded. He insisted the US government would not openly work with the South African scientists.

    Goosen says he baulked at this, but in the meantime he had handed two samples to Zlockie – an antitoxin (like a serum) and a genetically modified organism used to produce a vaccine. Goosen insists that the material did not represent a proliferation threat.

    From then the picture of what happened gets murky. Goosen says he travelled to China to help that country with an animal vaccine programme in April and May. When he came back, he found the deal with the Americans was off.

    Minnaar, moreover, had in the meantime fallen in with Arnold van Eck, a former National Intelligence Agent who had left that organisation under a cloud.

    According to a statement later prepared by Van Eck, Minnaar asked him to find another buyer for anthrax serum. Van Eck claims he came up with someone he had met in Czechoslovakia, Helmut Gaensel.

    German-born Gaensel is a colourful character. A former Czech intelligence agent, he was employed to hunt for hidden Nazi treasure, until his defection to the West in the 1960s. In the early 1990s he made a living persuading investors to back his excavations of abandoned mines on the Czech border, still in pursuit of Nazi riches.

    Like Mayes and Zlockie, Gaensel also moved to Florida, but could not be contacted.

    According to Van Eck, Minnaar discussed selling not only serum to Gaensel but anthrax itself.

    Goosen confirms he was asked to supply anthrax “for testing the serum” but says he refused. According to Van Eck’s affidavit, he went to the police when talk of selling anthrax at the beginning of July last year emerged.

    Police spokesperson Sally de Beer declined to comment on issues involving Minnaar, but police and intelligence sources have confirmed that a sting operation was launched, complete with a fake sheikh installed at a posh Johannesburg hotel.

    This time Van Eck acted as the go-between for Minnaar, who, from transcripts of Minnaar’s SMS messages seen by the M&G, seemed to have no idea he was being set up.

    But Goosen again refused to supply anthrax and the sting collapsed.

    Minnaar died, leaving a string of unanswered questions, including whether he met police National

    Commissioner Jackie Selebi shortly before his death, as has been claimed in a news report last year on Minnaar’s death. The transcripts of Minnaar’s SMS messages indicate he intended to meet Selebi.

    De Beer this week said that Selebi’s position has been not to comment on the matter.

    With acknowledgements to Sam Sole and the Mail and Guardian.

    • DXer said

      Why did the FBI turn down (according to this report) the offered virulent Ames from Project Coast? Dr. Majidi, how did you exclude it as not matching?

      Stephen Dresch’s Vlog 05.22.04 / Dead in the Woods
      Tai Minnaar? Why did the FBI’s WMD chief scuttle that deal (which would have included samples of a large number of anthrax strains, over 30 of which were virulent and three were deadly, the latter including the Ames strain). …
      deadinthewoods.blogspot.com

      • DXer said

        Steven Dresch wrote an FBI Agent about the issue in 2005.
        http://forensic-intelligence.org/amerithrax.pdf

        “Even in the absence of any specific reason to believe that the letters anthrax may have originated in South Africa, genetic comparisons of the South African and the letters samples of the Ames strain would have been strongly indicated, simply to rule out the possibility of a South African origin. Thus, it is my understanding that the FBI’s investigation has included the genetic analysis of Ames samples in the possession of U.K. and U.S. laboratories (including DSTL, USAMRIID, Battelle Memorial Laboratories, Dugway Proving Ground) despite the absence of any independent reason to believe that the letters anthrax originated from any one of these sources. In this context, the decision, in mid 2002, of the FBI’s WMD chief, Barbara Martinez, to abort the virtually consummated transaction to acquire the legacy stocks of PC biomaterials is, to say the least, surprising.6

        ***

        At $5 million and 20-odd green cards for former PC scientists and their dependents, the price to the FBI of the PC cache of biomaterials would appear insignificant by comparison to the cost of the FBI’s Amerithrax investigation. As importantly, its acquisition by the FBI would have removed the PC cache from the international bioweapons market. In the wake of the Martinez decision to abort the transaction, the U.S. did inform the South African government of the offer, and South African authorities made nominal efforts to locate and seize the cache. However, my source indicates that these efforts failed and that the cache remains in private hands. Moreover, other foreign parties made subsequent efforts to acquire the cache. While some of these may have involved “sting operations” (by South African or other authorities), some at least appear to have been “legitimate,” and it is significant that a South African intermediary in the negotiations with the FBI, Gen. Tai Minnaar, died under questionable circumstances in September 2002, only months after the collapse of the FBI negotiations and after other offers for the cache had been received.
        While there is reason to believe that the location of the cache, in Fall 2002, was known to some of the parties to the proposed FBI transaction, it is not known if the cache remains in South Africa, and Minnaar’s death has deprived U.S. participants in the negotiations of information concerning its possible subsequent disposition.”

  2. We can work backwards from the FBI/DOJ actions.

    1) After Ivins death, FBI and DOJ claim Ivins falsified the second submission as part of a plan by Ivins to deceive on the morphs.

    2) We now know that Ivins gave other submissions that were identifiable by morph methods and the FBI knew that in 2006.

    3) The FBI knew that from the time of Ivins death to now but concealed it.

    This fact pattern shows consciousness of guilt by the FBI/DOJ as they would and in fact did falsely infer as to Ivins.

    What is the FBI/DOJ guilty of in their minds?

    1) Didn’t they say to Ivins while he was alive that he had submitted a false sample intentionally?

    2)Didn’t they in effect deceive him by not reminding him of the other submissions?

    3) Wasn’t this a critical factor in Ivins decision he was being framed, that he could not win when the FBI/DOJ controlled the evidence, where they could keep evidence from trial by using secrecy classifications, and his decision to commit suicide?

    4) Thus the FBI/DOJ for the entire period from Ivins death to now act with consciousness of guilt in driving him to suicide?

    • Your lawyer can’t ask the judge to declassify a document if you don’t know it existed. Ivins was not just facing trial, he was facing trial with those who had this enormous advantage. In other cases, the government showed it would use that advantage to the limit simply as a tactic without hesitation or even the decency to twitch.

      • DXer said

        Note that these documents were not classified.

        The DOJ is simply withholding documents under FOIA.

        Now what they’ve done is sweep even an official IG report (and a related Sandia report) under the rug by “sealing” them even though the FOIA officers all agree the document is not otherwise exempt under FOIA.

        I can see why it happened — a DOJ civil lawyer has no priority to focus on the release of documents.

        But Margaret Barnes should have DIAG lawyer move in federal district court tomorrow to permit the release of the document under FOIA — if DIAG in fact has any concern.

        Otherwise, DIAG needs to pay the attorneys fees associated with the litigation that USG has made necessary under FOIA. And of course any national press regarding their withholding the taxpayers this report — funded by taxpayers — will be richly deserved.

        Note that this should be viewed in the context of DOJ’s failure to provide the lab notebooks from September and October 2001 — after they took the only copy!

  3. DXer said

    -Although prosecutors have said Ivins tried to hide his guilt by submitting a false sample of his anthrax that didn’t contain telltale genetic mutations found in the attack powder, records reveal publicly for the first time that Ivins made available at least three other samples for testing between 2002 and 2004. Those samples did match the anthrax in the attack letters, a discovery that Ivins’ lawyer said debunks charges that he was covering his tracks.

    Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/10/11/3199777/fbis-case-against-anthrax-suspect.html#ixzz1aTGSt3PW

    This strikes me as a major Pulitzer-prize worthy revelation without more. See the FBIR documents below.

    It was Fronline/McClatchy that pursued such FOIA documents at USAMRIID and understood their significance, tying it to the findings on morphs.

    I just asked the FOIA officer to add the dates of uploading so you could see how minty fresh the information is.

    Contents of FBIR CD .pdf (102 KB) — Posted: 10/04/2011
    FBI repository evidence redacted.pdf (4128 KB) — Posted: 09/01/2011
    FBI Repository redacted.pdf (1494 KB) — Posted: 08/29/2011
    FBI Repository subpoena redacted.pdf (4788 KB) — Posted: 09/01/2011
    FBIR 006 redacted.pdf (3939 KB) — Posted: 10/03/2011
    FBIR 022 redacted.pdf (15213 KB) — Posted: 10/03/2011
    FBIR 040 redacted.pdf (6422 KB) — Posted: 10/04/2011
    FBIR 041 redacted.pdf (7813 KB) — Posted: 10/04/2011
    FBIR 044 Redacted.pdf (16090 KB) — Posted: 10/04/2011
    FBIR 047 Redacted.pdf (1729 KB) — Posted: 10/04/2011
    FBIR 049 Redacted.pdf (19851 KB) — Posted: 10/05/2011
    FBIR 050 redacted.pdf (10702 KB) — Posted: 10/05/2011
    FBIR 052 Redacted.pdf (29635 KB) — Posted: 10/05/2011
    FBIR.pdf (2665 KB) — Posted: 08/31/2011
    Inventory received redacted.pdf (1069 KB) — Posted: 09/01/2011
    QC of RMR 1029.pdf (8008 KB) — Posted: 10/04/2011
    Repository Aug 2004 redacted.pdf (2572 KB) — Posted: 09/01/2011
    Repository Inventory Log redacted.pdf (478 KB) — Posted: 09/01/2011
    Repository Samples Description redacted.pdf (1879 KB) — Posted: 09/01/2011
    Repository Sep 2004 redacted.pdf (35315 KB) — Posted: 09/01/2011
    response to repository-related FOIA redacted.pdf (7695 KB) — Posted: 09/01/2011

    • The headline of the blog post says that you, Dxer, got this document by FOIA. The post below shows I first gave the interpretation this contradicted the FBI/DOJ story of a false submission strategy. At the time, you rejected that interpretation. The dates show this was all a week before the McClatchey mention of it. Am I missing something here?

      Are all the documents you cite the dates of your own submissions?

      Isn’t this just the media taking work from Lew Weinstein’s blog and taking credit? Should that really get a Pulitzer Prize?

      • Dates of postings from submissions you made I should have said.

      • DXer said

        “Oldatlantic said

        October 11, 2011 at 10:00 am

        The headline of the blog post says that you, Dxer, got this document by FOIA. The post below shows I first gave the interpretation this contradicted the FBI/DOJ story of a false submission strategy. At the time, you rejected that interpretation. The dates show this was all a week before the McClatchey mention of it. Am I missing something here?”

        Yes. The headline in the blog relates to the Washington Field memo which is the first of the FBIR uploads by USMARIID. The FOIA officer emailed it to me the date I uploaded. I had asked her what good stuff she gave Frontline or McClatchy recently and she was giving me an update and then updating the FOIA reading room.

        The date “Posted” appears at the USAMRIID FOIA webpage was added by the webmaster at my request because I found it hard to sort out which ones were posted recently. I did not want to have to download and open things I had previously seen.

        I found the majority of the uploads hard to make sense of because they were written in handwriting (perhaps Terry Abshire is the one who has such nice cursive).. Entries would read like “looks like 26” etc. … and “looks like 2” and I did not even discuss them but merely listed the headings. ..

        In contrast, the Frontline and their partners rolled up their sleeves and read the hard-to-read entries and made sense of them. They of course also have had the benefit of important hard-to-get interviews of people like the wonderful Jennifer Love. (Just listen to her NAS presentation and see if you don’t agree). So I think without more the effort is Pulitzer-worthy –based on this technical breakthrough alone — even though a Pulitzer awaits other journalists on the many other issues not yet addressed.

        For example, the rabbits destroy Rachel’s case. (btw, I think I’m in love; beautiful and overly zealous is an exciting combination).

        And no one realizes that private DOJ memos by her and Ken Kohl reveal the reliance on the witness who was being guided the alien who gave her instructions each night and would implant devices in people’s butts. Judith McLean describes in great detail her delusions in her 2009 book. The real story is that the EBAP panel never retracted its reliance on her allegations.

        Amerithrax represents the greatest intelligence failure in the history of the United States. A CYA-motivated lack of forthrightness in addressing the missteps in analysis — demonstrated by Rachel but not Jennifer — is putting this country at grave peril of a mass attack on DC and NYC with anthrax.

        We deserve better.

        • Thanks for your detailed explanation. It does seem coherent with the facts as you relate that McClatchey et al were pursuing this interpretation before we in effect stumbled into it here.

  4. FBI HQ, we have a problem.

    Ivins gave someone RMR-1029 in 2003 to use to compare to the attack anthrax for its morph signature. This is supposedly after he falsified a sample in 2002 for the same problem.

    This is an FBI document from 2006. This is not a note discovered at USAMRIID behind someone’s filing cabinet last week in 2011. This is the FBI’s own document that states they know Ivins gave someone RMR-1029 after 2002 to use to compare to the morphs in the attack anthrax.

    This contradicts the FBI claim that Ivins gave a false sample in 2002 to prevent morph detection of RMR-1029.

    • DXer said

      The 070 sample to which Old Atlantic refers was taken from Terry Abshire’s supplies. She was Ezzell’s assistant in the DARPA work. In a document written by her produced under FOIA this week (the FBI file memo uploaded yesterday 10/5/11), she explains she can’t recall its origin and is merely guessing it was provided by Bruce sometime in 2003 or 2004 to see if it matched the anthrax strain.

      In the document to be uploaded, however, she explains she did not submit in her initial submission in 2002 because it matched what Ivins had (and thus implicitly she is saying she had it in 2002). In fact, in the FOIA doc she authored, she claims she must have received it from Ivins in 2002 (in contrast to the 2003 or 2004 reported in the FBI memo).

      Did it instead date to 2000 when her lab was provided genetically matching material in August 2000 for DARPA research in which Dr. Ezzell made a dried powder out of the Ames and gave it to the DARPA researchers?

      Doesn’t this go to the heart of the inventory issues being raised by Plaintiff’s counsel?

      Here genetically matching Ames from RMR-1029 is being used to make dried powder for DARPA detection work — WHICH BUDGET DOCUMENTS SHOW INCLUDED MICROENCAPSULATED POWDER — and yet it was not submitted in February 2002 by the lab that had it…\\

      which also was the scientist collecting samples for the FBI,

      throwing out Bruce’s initial February 2002 sample,

      and then saying that the April 2002 sample was submitted by him even though she says (in the doc produced under FOIA this week) there are no initials by him confirming he prepared it.

      • Since this is an FBI Washington Field Memo it indicates their understanding that the FBI believed in 2006 that this was a sample submitted by Ivins on or after 2002 and not something there from before. If the FBI were shown to be mistaken, that would not alter that the FBI knew of this submission and that the FBI believed Ivins gave it as a sample for testing on or after 2002.

  5. DXer said

    That paragraph refers to a distribution that is apparently to the same person on November 14, 2001 of 1 ml.

    According to an unredacted copy of the inventory of RMR 1029, that would be Susan Welkos.
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2009/07/25/usamriid-rmr-records-flask-1029/

    Does Dr. Welkos remember now why she had the Ames dating to the 1990s? What was the quantity? When precisely (after checking her notes) did she receive it? Did she follow her typical custom and not give it to anyone else?

    see generally

    * USAMRIID Scientist Susan Welkos deposition excerpt : No data suggesting Dr. Ivins is guilty
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/usamriid-scientist-susan-welkos-deposition-excerpt-no-data-suggesting-dr-ivins-is-guilty/

  6. DXer said

    Where was the DARPA research conducted related to the dried powder that the FBI anthrax expert made in 2000 out of Ames supplied by Bruce Ivins from Flask 1029 at USAMRIID?

    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/where-was-the-darpa-research-conducted-related-to-the-dried-powder-that-the-fbi-anthrax-expert-made-in-2000-out-of-ames-supplied-by-bruce-ivins-from-flask-1029-at-usamriid/

    where was DARPA’s 1999-2000 work on microencapsulation done?

    http://www.dtic.mil/descriptivesum/Y2000/DARPA/PE0602383E-R-1%2314.pdf

    “Evaluate methods for removing micro-encapsulation of disguised pathogens and/or sensing through the micro-encapsulation.”

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