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

* NYT report … analysis by scientists Hugh-Jones, Rosenberg and Jacobsen disputes FBI closing of anthrax case … Dr. Alice Gast, the head of the NAS panel that reviewed the FBI’s scientific work in the anthrax investigation, says … the paper points out connections that deserve further consideration … the potential value of chemical signatures has not been fully explored … she urges a full review of classified government research on anthrax, which her panel never saw

Posted by DXer on October 10, 2011


Is it possible that Director Mueller, an intelligent man, doesn't know the FBI has failed to make its case against Dr. Ivins? And what does it mean if he knows but won't admit it?


William Broad and Scott Shane write in the NYT (10/9/11) …

  • biologists and chemists still disagree on whether federal investigators got the right man and whether the FBI’s long inquiry brushed aside important clues.
  • three scientists argue that distinctive chemicals found in the dried anthrax spores — including the unexpected presence of tin — point to a high degree of manufacturing skill, contrary to federal reassurances that the attack germs were unsophisticated. The scientists make their case in a coming issue of the Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense.

Both the chairwoman of a National Academy of Science (NAS) panel

that spent a year and a half reviewing the F.B.I.’s scientific work

and the director of a new review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO)

said the paper raised important questions that should be addressed.

  • Alice P. Gast, president of Lehigh University and the head of the academy panel, said that the paper “points out connections that deserve further consideration.”

Dr. Gast, a chemical engineer, said the “chemical signatures”

in the mailed anthrax and their potential value to the criminal investigation

had not been fully explored.

She also noted that the academy panel suggested a full review

of classified government research on anthrax,

which her panel never saw.

  • In interviews, the three authors said their analysis suggested that the F.B.I. might have pursued the wrong suspect and that the case should be reopened.
  • Their position may embolden calls for a national commission to investigate the first major bioterrorist attack in American history.
  • Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, said the paper provided “no evidence whatsoever that the spores used in the mailings were produced” at a location other than Fort Detrick. He said investigators believe Dr. Ivins grew and dried the anthrax spores himself. “We stand by our conclusion.”
  • In addition to Dr. Hugh-Jones, the authors of the new paper are Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a biologist, and Stuart Jacobsen, a chemist; both have speculated publicly about the case and criticized the F.B.I. for years.
  • In 2008, days after Dr. Ivins’s suicide, the bureau made public a sweeping but circumstantial case against him. Last year, the bureau formally closed the case, acknowledging that some scientific questions were unanswered but asserting that the evidence against Dr. Ivins was overwhelming.

Yet no evidence directly tied Dr. Ivins to the crime.

  • Some of the scientist’s former colleagues have argued that he could not have made the anthrax and that investigators hounded a troubled man to death.
  • In its report last February, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel sharply criticized some of the F.B.I.’s scientific work, saying the genetic link between the attack anthrax and a supply in Dr. Ivins’s lab was “not as conclusive” as the bureau asserted.
  • If the authors of the new paper are correct about the silicon-tin coating, it appears likely that Dr. Ivins could not have made the anthrax powder alone with the equipment he possessed, as the F.B.I. maintains.

That would mean either that he got the powder from elsewhere

or that he was not the perpetrator.

  • If Dr. Ivins did not make the powder, one conceivable source might be classified government research on anthrax, carried out for years by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency. Dr. Ivins had ties to several researchers who did such secret work.
  • The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, is conducting its own review (still ongoing) of the anthrax evidence. Nancy Kingsbury, the official overseeing the project, said the agency had spoken with the paper’s authors and judged that “their questions are reasonable.”
  • Several anthrax scientists who reviewed the new paper at the request of The Times said they believed it neglected the possibility that the tin and silicon were meaningless contaminants rather than sophisticated additives.
  • Dr. Gast, the head of the National Academy of Sciences panel, noted that her group strongly recommended that future investigations of the attacks examine the government’s classified work on anthrax.
  • She called access to secret records “an important aspect of providing more clarity on what we know and what we don’t know.

read the entire article at …



I have long held that the FBI’s publicly presented case against Dr. Ivins is clearly bogus: no evidence, no witnesses, an impossible timeline, science that proves innocence instead of guilt. So what really happened? And why doesn’t the FBI offer America a credible story?

As regular readers of this blog well know, I can imagine only 3 possible “actual” scenarios …

  1. The FBI has more evidence against Dr. Ivins but is, for some undisclosed reason, withholding that evidence … POSSIBLE BUT NOT SO LIKELY
  2. The FBI, despite the most expensive and extensive investigation in its history, has not solved the case and has no idea who prepared and mailed the anthrax letters that killed 5 Americans in 2001 … EVEN LESS LIKELY
  3. The FBI knows who did it (not Dr. Ivins) but is covering up the actual perpetrators, for undisclosed reasons …THE MOST LIKELY SCENARIO
When I first heard the FBI/DOJ August 2008 press conference, I was infuriated. It was obvious to me even then that the FBI had no case, or at least no case they chose to make publicly known. Since I’m a novelist, I focused my anger and wrote CASE CLOSED, a fictional account of what might have happened in the anthrax attacks and subsequent FBI investigation. The novel has been published and is available at amazon …

* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *

Here is the first scene in CASE CLOSED, where I have the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) institute its own re-examination of the FBI’s obviously flawed investigation …

this is the opening scene of Lew Weinstein's novel CASE CLOSED


* buy CASE CLOSED at amazon *


39 Responses to “* NYT report … analysis by scientists Hugh-Jones, Rosenberg and Jacobsen disputes FBI closing of anthrax case … Dr. Alice Gast, the head of the NAS panel that reviewed the FBI’s scientific work in the anthrax investigation, says … the paper points out connections that deserve further consideration … the potential value of chemical signatures has not been fully explored … she urges a full review of classified government research on anthrax, which her panel never saw”

  1. DXer said

    Accidental Shipment of Anthrax Exposes Flaws in Safety Systems

    Anthrax and bioterrorism

    According to the CDC, anthrax is a high-risk bioterrorism threat, because of its ease of dispersal. “In 2001, powdered anthrax⁠ spores were deliberately put into letters that were mailed through the U.S. postal system. Twenty-two people, including 12 mail handlers, got anthrax, and five of these 22 people died.” The resulting search for the culprit was another shameful fiasco. Dr. Steven Hatfill, former biodefense researcher for United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, was wrongly accused and named a “person of interest” in the case by then Attorney General John Ashcroft. The Justice Department ultimately agreed to exonerate him and pay him $4.6 million to settle a lawsuit⁠. The FBI then went after Dr. Bruce Ivins, another Ft. Detrick researcher. There is considerable doubt as to Dr. Ivins’ guilt⁠, too, but he committed suicide before the FBI charged him.

    Yet before the “War on Terror,” samples of anthrax could be purchased commercially and the CDC and American Type Culture Collection (ATTC)⁠source of standard biological samples even sent Iraq three strains of anthrax, six strains of the bacteria that produces botulinum toxin, three strains of the bacteria that cause gas gangrene, and West Nile.


    In terms of post-exposure prophylaxis, Martin Hugh-Jones, an anthrax expert⁠ at LSU and the WHO, offered a novel perspective, given his distaste for Cipro, too. He recommended, “Frankly if you ever have an aerosol exposed individual [1] give them at least 3 days of doxy, and [2] vaccinate them 3 times at 2-3 week intervals. If you don’t have the human vaccine, wait ten days after the antibiotic and vaccinate them once with Sterne [a veterinary anthrax vaccine]. You only need one shot of Sterne; there will be some oedema at the injection site but it is safe for humans.”

    There’s too much that we don’t know at this time, so questions will evolve. We do know there is a pattern of accidental exposures to serious pathogens, causing considerable mistrust among the public and towards the military.

  2. DXer said

    Graeme McQueen in his 2001 Anthrax Deception book (Clarity 2014) writes:

    “The Bioterrorism & Biodefense Articles

    “In 2011 and 2012 two articles co-authored by Martin Hugh-Jones, Barbara Rosenberg and Stuart Jacobsen appeared in the Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense.82 The lead author, Hugh-Jones, is referred to in the FBI’s Amerithrax Investigative Summary as a “renowned anthrax expert”—the only such expert identified by name in the Summary. The three scientists brought new evidence and new hypotheses to the discussion of the preparation of the attack spores and directly challenged the FBI’s methods and conclusions.


    In a second article (December, 2012) in the same journal these authors came out even more strongly in favor of a silicone microencapsulation hypothesis. They made a suggestion about the purpose of this process:
    Microencapsulation by special polymers to produce particles in the 1-10 micron range could protect microbes from environmental damage during aerosolization and delivery [e.g. via bomblets] and also from the body’s initial defenses during the infection process.86 [bracketed insertion in original]
    They added that processes such as this would probably be unavailable to terrorists but could be used by a state laboratory “to produce highly effective weapons of mass destruction. ”87

    The researchers had by this time come to suspect that both tin and B. subtilis, a contaminant of the attack spores, originated at Dugway Proving Ground (the U.S. army testing ground in Utah),88 and they suggested Dugway, possibly in close collaboration with Battelle, as the source of the spores. They expressed the opinion that the microencapsulated spores may not have been prepared especially for the attack letters but may have been already present in a U.S. military program, being then removed by a person, or by persons, for the 2001 attacks.89”


    I am greatly enthused that the retired BHR and Martin Hugh-Jones are continuing their reading and research. Whatever the differences in our theories of the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings, I look forward to their next contribution, whatever it is.

    BHR, who like Meryl I consider a friend — and I would love to take them out to dinner — is working on a new scientific angle. (I have a slight crush on Meryl because she’s the only woman who has called me in 15 years, calling me in the summer of 2002 about a Hatfill search).

    You should know that BHR and Hugh-Jones are founders of Pro-Med, which IMO is a hugely influential publication given its electronic distribution numbers internationally. 40,000?

    Hugh-Jones is not only not a fringe author (as Graeme, respectfully, is), but he is about as influential and oft-quoted as you can get. I think of him as akin to Richard Ebright — even though RHE and I also disagree. (Although extremely smart and an Eagle Boy Scout, RHE simply isn’t yet well-read in intelligence analysis).

    Give RHE time. Boy Scouts are about preparedness and the protection of innocents more than anything. (Note to Richard: I’ve worked for free for 10 years precisely because I’m an Eagle — there are innocents who need protecting).

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

    Pornographer Ed, OTOH, is definitely on the lunatic fringe. His theory a First Grader wrote the anthrax letters is really stupid. Even Gary Matsumoto feels sorry for him and thinks he is pathetic. I’m of course biased becaue Ed has become this blog’s stalker — he comments and insults this blog regularly, while never addressing the underlying merits or documents relating to Al Qaeda’s anthrax program. He is all about labels and insults.

    Note to Ed: The progression from pornographer to suspected pedophile to stalker will not end well for you as you enter your 80s. Not even your brother-in-law agrees with your stupid theory a First Grader wrote the anthrax letters.

    People don’t need to agree with one another on some difficult true crime mystery to be great company.

    Not to worry, Dr. Majidi. You and the other FBI Amerithrax science author — I forget his name offhand see CSI pose in Wash Po — can come to dinner too. People can only benefit from exchanging ideas and information.

    Scott Decker perhaps is the name. Indeed, FBI Agents involved in the investigation would be the most interesting folks at the table by far.

    My friend Stuart, another great guy — and co-author of the articles discussed by Graeme — would be the first to admit that sometimes there are missteps and mistaken conclusions.

    I would be Graeme’s friend too except Clarity did not give me a free review copy — and should have.

    I can be bought and I come cheap. Clarity should understand that as a missed opportunity.

  3. DXer said

    The 2014 NRC report on microbial forensics continues its discussion of Amerithrax:

    “in addition, physical science analytical apporaches, such as scanning transmission electron microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray analaysis, carbon dating by accelerator mass spectrometry, and inductively coupled plasma-optical emission and mass spectrometry, were used to try to determine the chemical and elemental profiles of the spore powders (NRC, 2011). These kinds of testing were designed to answer such questions as how the material was grown and processed, when the anthrax preparation might have been made, wehther there were contaminants or trace elemnts that would provide a clue to the production location or materials used, and whether there was evidence of an en effort to deliberately include additives to improve disperal of the spores.”

    “Early in the investigation, elemental analysis of the letter spores detected silicon, leading some to conclude that this material had been deliberatedly added to aid aerosol dispersal of the anthrax spores. The conlcusion that silicon was present was correct, but the interpretation that it had been added to weaponize the spores was not supported. A sensitive and sophisticated analysis performed at the Sandia National Laboratories showed that the silicon was inside, not outside the spore coat, which means the spores had not been coated to decrease clumping. (Michael and Kotula, 2009) However, because the erroneous conclusion was leaked to the media, it was never possible to complietely mitigate this false conclusion. In fact, controver concerning the source of the silicon content in the attack material remains active in the literature (Bhattacharjee, 2010; Hugh-Jones et al., 2011).

    Amerithrax: Dr. Adamovicz addresses the FBI’s failed thinking on the Silicon Signature
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 20, 2014

    Dr. Gerard Andrews, Chief of Bacteriology, explained at his civil deposition why the silicon signature in the anthrax was exculpatory of Dr. Bruce Ivins
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 15, 2013

    In the newly produced civil deposition, Dr. Jahrling describes the AFIP’s finding that there was “a ton of silicon in this material.”
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 30, 2014

    Might microemulsions incorporated into the growth medium result in a silicon signature?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 29, 2011

  4. DXer said

    Vahid Majid disagrees with NAS Chairman Alice Gast.

    He writes that the SIlicon Signature had “no probative value (it would neither provide additional leads nor help attribution.)”

    Instead, Dr. Majid stands ready to rely on sororities and a therapist who says she got her instructions each night from alien while counseling Bruce Ivins.

    Good luck with that Vahid.

  5. DXer said

    Dr. Majidi recognizes that he has no explanation for “the much talked about silicon” that was “inside of the spore.” The FBI — advised by the anonymous Red Team members (see NAS documents redacting their names) — decided not to pursue the reason for the SIlicon Signature further than they did.

    $100 million, after all, only goes so far.

    It is as if the early finding as to the location of the Silicon Signature (inside the spore rather than outside) was suddenly reason not to pursue it.

    Or more to the point — without second-guessing the failure to pursue the reason for the Silicon Signature — in 2008, the Silicon Signature was exculpatory of Dr. Ivins. The FBI has no explanation of why it points to a method used by Dr. Ivins (who by the way didn’t even make powderized anthrax).

    Where does Dr. Majidi discuss microencapsulation? Elsewhere he has very thoughtfully said (see transcript) that the silica could have been in the slurry used to grow the anthrax. Indeed, in controlled experiments, when Air Force aerosol / biodefense scientists grew the anthrax or anthrax surrogate in a slurry with a silanizing agent, the SEMS looked just like the mailed anthrax. The experiments were conducted by an Air Force lab led by aerosol expert John Kiel expressly for the purpose of understanding the reason for the signature. John sent me the SEMS. Yet the FBI scientists when contacted by Kiel’s lab were not interested. They were quite happy to not pursue the Silicon Signature. They had knocked down the straw man set up by Gary M.’s early SCIENCE news article with the help of non-anthrax, non-aerosol scientists at Sandia.

    Gary M’s focus on the Silicon Signature actually was very important. Understanding advances one step at a time even when sometimes the next step turns out to be in a slightly different direction.

    Inside or outside the spore, the “Silicon Signature” had huge potential probative significance — whether in 2002 or in 2008.

    The FBI scientists were quite content to not pursue the probativeness of the Silicon Signature. (Documents not yet produced by the FBI show that Doug Beecher had more influence on the issue than is commonly known; the GAO should publish his interview on the subject.)

    Just because it was “inside the spore” was not reason to fail to further explore the reason for the signature.

    For example, the leading anthrax scientist Ken Alibek and his colleague, a former USAMRIID commander, had invented a patent in March 2001 that involved growing anthrax in silica. It was called Microdroplet Cell Culture. Kiel tells me it was a microencapsulation patent. It served to concentrate the anthrax. Their research with Ames was done in downtown Frederick, Maryland at Southern Research Institute. Dr. Ivins’ chief accuser Pat Fellows came to head the B3 lab when she left in 2002. In an imploring email, Dr. Ivins tried to get Pat Fellows to explain where a missing 5 ml of Ames was — whether she had destroyed it upon leaving.

    DARPA-funded Ames anthrax researchers Alibek and Bailey shared a suite with the Al Qaeda-supporting scientist coordinating with Anwar Awlaki. (As a bone for those still confused about Battelle, Alibek and Bailey had been Battelle aerosol consultants in 1999). Ali Al-TImimi had full access to the university computers — as well as unfettered access to the largest microbiological repository in the world.

    For the reasoning impaired, let me say that again: DARPA-funded Ames anthrax researchers Alibek and Bailey shared a suite with the Al Qaeda-supporting scientist Ali Al-Timimi, who was coordinating with Anwar Awlaki.

    see floor diagram

    Ali Al-Timimi ad a security clearance while he worked at SRA with Bailey in 1999. He did classified work for the Navy. At Department of Transportation, he had been an assistant for Andrew Card to whom Director Mueller reported, sometimes daiily or weekly, on Amerithrax.

    Ali Al-Timimi was what you call in the IC an “infiltrator.”

    Ali Al-TImimi came to be represented for free by the daughter of the lead Amerithrax prosecutor Daniel Seikaly. This is not a conspiracy theory. Amerithrax is just an incredibly botched investigation and there are potential conflicts of interest that need to be explored by GAO. As a former Arlington, VA true crime buff who went to Aldrich Ames’ estate sale, I have watched Amerithrax unfold with fascination. The folks who saw Aldrich Ames wearing a different Rolex each day of the week — and pull up in the car that he did — should have raised questions. Dr. Majidi, a chemist, did not have the training or inclination to raise questions. He still doesn’t.

    I urged Katherine Seikaly, the daughter of the long-time Amerithrax prosecutor, to withdraw from her representation of anthrax suspect Ali Al-Timimi but for many months she declined.

    But let me be clear: I blame only Ayman Zawahiri, Yazid Sufaat and Adnan El-Shukrijumah for the mailed anthrax. As for the reasons they got away with it, it is just that Amerithrax represents the greatest failure in counterintelligence analysis in the history of the United States. If the country is going to be kept safe from the anthrax threat, it will have to be NYPD Intelligence, DIA, Homeland Security or some agency other than the FBI’s WMD Division.

    Dr. Majidi’s failure in counterintelligence analysis makes the failure to detect Aldrich Ames or Robert Hannsen — who he discusses in his book — pale in comparison.

    The lead Amerithrax prosecutor pled the Fifth Amendment with the leaks about the anthrax smelling dogs that derailed the Amerithrax investigation. He pointed to Hatfill as the culprit.

    You heard me right: the lead Amerithrax prosecutor pled the Fifth Amendment against incrimination. As for the lead anthrax suspects like Yazid Sufaat and Rauf Ahmad, they weren’t even brought into US custody where they could be questioned.

    If you don’t know that an investigation is botched when the lead prosecutor is pleading the Fifth Amendment in connection with the case then you don’t watch nearly enough TV.

    My graphics were done by a federal undercover.

    My intelligence is far greater than Dr. Vahid Majid, the associate professor from the University of Kentucky who knew chemistry but had no background whatsoever in counterintelligence analysis. His emphasis naturally favored the chemistry that he knew — he embraced the Sandia result on the location of the silica as if it somehow led to any final answer. Viewing the Matsumoto Science news article like one of those bozo punching bags from our childhood, they thought if they punched it in the nose it somehow would stay down.

    In the production of documents to the NAS, Dr. Majidi should have identified the scientists on the Red Team who advised that the Silicon Signature should not be pursued. Otherwise there in fact is no transparency on this issue of the FBI’s failure to explore the reason for the Siliicon Signature. (You just know if Ali Al-Timimi’s suitemates, the DARPA-funded Ames anthrax researchers Alibek and Bailey who were co-inventors of the patent for growing anthrax in silica, were on the Red Team, I’m going to suggest to the GAO that they had a conflict of interest).

    As an attorney who knows the rules, I’m all about conflict of interest — not conspiracy. Ask former FDA Commissioner Crawford who resigned within 48 hours after I emailed him with news of test results showing there was benzene in the soft drinks marketed to a captive audience of schoolchildren nationwide. Dr. Crawford owned stock in Pepsi and the school lunch distributor while leading the task force on childhood obesity and regulating soft drinks.

    On silica, Peter Weber found that the iron follows the silica. I think of Dr. Weber as the “smartest dude in the room on the issue” — to borrow Dr. Majidi’s phrase.

    Iron makes the more anthrax more deadly in the lung. See the uploaded peer-reviewed literature.

    Microencapsulation — evidenced by the silica inside the spore — makes the anthrax harder to detect. ISee uploaded peer-reviewed literature.

    Dr. Majidi’s characterization of the silica issue as relating only to floatability was a straw man argument that led the FBI’s entire understanding of the issue to go astray.

    Even if you are not persuaded of this reasoning, experts such as Alice Gast, head of the NAS panel (and as I recall a renown chemist) appreciate that the Silicon Signature should have been further explored.

    Dr. Majidi makes no attempt at all to argue that the Silicon Signature somehow was inculpatory of Dr. Ivins. Emphasizing semantics over logic, he equates “weaponization” with floatability when it in fact is a bit more complicated than that.

    Did I mention that my former Facebook Friend and correspondent Yazid Sufaat was a member of a secret biological weapons program? Did Dr. Majidi know that? Vahid nowhere mentions it even though Yazid Sufaat explained as much in a filmed interview I’ve uploaded. Yazid tells me he could work magic. Not long after our correspondence, he was arrested and so I couldn’t pursue the questioning.

    But at the end of the day I find the words “WE HAVE THIS ANTHRAX” actually are pretty scary. Failure is not an option.

    The issue is important enough that Dr. Majidi should not have failed to disclose the handwriting report that Dr. Ivins probably did not write the anthrax letters. In a 200 page book on the Amerithrax investigation, it would have only taken one sentence to disclose that fact.

    You can count on Vahid turning to smear Dr. Ivins as the science fails him. You will hear him shift to a handful of people who — some for good reason — did not like Bruce Ivins. One person Dr. Majidi will turn to in smearing Ivins will be Nancy, the scientist who justifiedly hated Bruce and thought Bruce was responsible for the unkind September 23 article in the Washington Post about her research.

    Another will the counselor who in July 2008 was handed the file from the first counselor. That first counselor has written a book in 2009 explaining that in 2000, when she counseled Ivins in her part-time gig, she was psychotic and got her instructions from an alien at night. She thought she was being pursued by murderous astral entities — each night, she would narrowly escape through a vortex. She thought murderous entities were attached to her clients. She annotated the notes by Dr. Ivins’ psychiatrists. The former lead WMD scientist will turn from the science to rely on the fact that Ivins was exasperated and extremely angry at his counselors. He will rely on the fact that Bruce Ivins was extremely angry after the FBI swabbed him for DNA after finding semen stained panties in his trash again. He will rely on the fact that Bruce Ivins was extremely angry after the prosecutors told him that they would call his wife and children before the grand jury to ask about his home life.

    When you see the guy who should be talking about the science talking the rage Ivins felt over the way he was being treated, you know that in reviewing the science that there is no “there there.”

    Just as was true under a Hatfill Theory.

    As a scientist, Vahid should stick to the science. He should leave the smearing of the dead guy to the overzealous prosecutors.

    Because things were way more dysfunctional in the prosecutor’s office than they were in Bruce Ivins’ B-3.

    • DXer said

      Based on public domain scientific literature, microencapsulation also protects the anthrax from being destroyed by sunlight.

      The FBI finds it hard to discuss the issue because issues relating to anthrax processing are classified — and understandably so.

      A scientist at the science brief pointed that out in August 2008.

      In the case of the NAS review, the issue should have been addressed very early on and material declassified or clearances obtained. There were CIA members of the Task Force. In fact the lead CIA scientist Jennifer urged that material be declassified to the maximum extent possible.

      But for Vahid conflate the issue of silica with the issue of floatability only serves to confuse things — it is an easy straw man that does not advance analysis of whether the Silicon Signature was potentially highly probative (and exculpatory of Dr. Ivins).

      For this scientist VM to disagree with the NAS Chairman puts him in an awkward position.

  6. DXer said

    Alice Gast would be aghast — but perhaps not surprised — to know that the FBI selectively produced documents to the NAS about Al Qaeda and anthrax.

    Now Alice Gast neither worked with Ivins nor thinks the moon landing was faked. Dr. Majidi needed to address the evidence with citations to the documentary evidence.

    If he was going to say that the work with the 52 rabbits did not explain Ivins’ time in the lab, for example, then he at least needed to evidence awareness of the experiment.

    It is NOWHERE mentioned in the Amerithrax Investigative Summary. Where is the discussion in his book?

    By the way, involving the moon landing is a specious, lazy and ad hominem argument. I don’t know any of the people who have raised serious issues about an Ivins Theory think the moon landing was faked.

    I graduated from Harvard Law and my intelligence resources are way better than yours, Vahid.

  7. DXer said

    Scientific data points to government-made anthrax

    Posted: Sunday, September 15, 2013 2:00 am

    FBI documents released to the public in 2011 contain strong evidence that the anthrax spores used in the letter attacks of 2001 had been prepared previously for U.S. biodefense purposes. We have recently compiled and analyzed the documents, which contain some 10,000 pages of scientific data, in the “Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense.”*

    Although genetic analysis indicates that anthrax spores in a flask at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases are the likely parental source from which the letter spores were grown, the USAMRIID spores do not contain two extraneous chemical elements and a non-anthrax type of spore found by the FBI in the letter anthrax; nor has evidence been found at USAMRIID for any use of these items.

    The two chemical elements, tin and silicon, must have been added to process the letter spores following their growth, for the toxicity of tin would have prevented growth, and the uniquely high silicon content of the spores has never been replicated during growth. The two chemicals are components of a well-known type of protective coating called silicone (a complex substance containing the element silicon). Silicone has been used in the past to encapsulate pharmaceuticals in order to protect them from inactivation by external hazards without impairing their biological action.
    Microencapsulation of the attack spores with silicone would explain the presence, locations and amounts of the two extraneous chemical elements, for which no other explanation has ever been offered. Methods are available for determining whether or not silicone is present in the attack spores, but there is no evidence that this has been done.

    In the case of biological weapons like anthrax, microencapsulation could be used to prevent their detection as well as to protect them from inactivation. A plan to test the effects of microencapsulation on the detection of pathogens was spelled out in the Department of Defense’s unclassified annual budget justification documents issued in 1999, 2000 and 2001 for the Biological Warfare Defense program, under which DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) was developing a biological weapons detection system. The budget document for 2002 stated that the plan had been accomplished in 2001. Evidently, the DARPA project had been supplied with microencapsulated pathogen(s) in the year of the letter attacks. Dry anthrax spores were one of the pathogens known to be under study by DARPA in 2001. Antibioterrorism training and vulnerability assessment were also underway in the U.S. at the time and may have utilized any anthrax spore preparations that were available.
    Only one laboratory, the Army laboratory at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, is known to have made active, dry anthrax spores (an arms-control, treaty-sensitive activity) before the attacks. In its Department of Defense budget justification, Dugway also expressed an interest in microencapsulation. FBI data indicate traces of tin in some anthrax spores made there, but not in any spores made elsewhere. Battelle Memorial Institute was operating the Dugway laboratory in 2001. Battelle possessed anthrax spores that have been shown by the FBI to be a genetic match with the letter spores.
    Both Dugway and Battelle utilize dry spores of Bacillus subtilis, a related but non-pathogenic bacterial species that is frequently used as a convenient simulant or model for anthrax. The non-anthrax contaminant found in the letter anthrax is a sub-species of Bacillus subtilis that has a unique genetic sequence, making it a potential institutional “fingerprint.” The FBI did not find it at USAMRIID. There is no evidence that they searched Dugway or Battelle.

    When viewed together, these facts imply that the attack spores were processed with tin-and silicon-containing materials under government auspices, probably to microencapsulate them for use in detection and other defense studies. The process of spore microencapsulation requires special expertise, specific documented chemicals, and sophisticated facilities. The known clues point to Dugway or Battelle, not USAMRIID, as the site where the attack spores were prepared. Crucial evidence that would prove or disprove these points either has not been pursued or has not been released by the FBI.

    *The relevant articles in the “Journal of Bioterrorism and Biodefense” can be viewed at and

    Barbara Rosenberg and Martin Hugh-Jones are biological scientists with a special interest in the control of biological weapons. Barbara Hatch writes from Northampton, Mass. Hugh-Jones writes from Baton Rouge, La.

  8. DXer said

    Ecological Niche Modeling of Bacillus anthracis on Three Continents: Evidence for Genetic-Ecological Divergence?
    Mullins JC, Garofolo G, Van Ert M, Fasanella A, Lukhnova L, Hugh-Jones ME, Blackburn JK.
    PLoS One. 2013 Aug 19;8(8):e72451. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0072451.

    Go to:
    Funding Statement
    This work was partially supported by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) through the Biological Threat Reduction Program in Kazakhstan. Field efforts in the US were partially funded by the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida, the Department of Homeland Security, and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at California State University Fullerton. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, or preparation of the manuscript.
    Go to:
    1. Hugh-Jones M, Blackburn J (2009) The ecology of Bacillus anthracis. Mol Aspects Med 30: 356-367.10.1016/j.mam.2009.08.003 PubMed: 19720074. [PubMed]

  9. DXer said
    In response to the DOJ statement, Hugh-Jones said in an email to The Daily Princetonian that he challenged the government to test his team’s hypothesis in a lab in order to take the discussion “out of the realm of lawyer talk of you said/we say nonsense.”

    “The DOJ forgets that we are scientists and all ‘speculation’ are hypotheses which are subject to testing to see if they have any basis in hard fact,” he said. “I hope [the findings] will add to the pressure that the investigation be actively reopened.”

  10. DXer said

    Expert Report Questions FBI Findings on Anthrax Mailings
    Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011

  11. DXer said

    New Challenge to FBI’s Anthrax Investigation Lends An Ear to Tin
    by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee on 11 October 2011


    “The Lab’s planned BSL-3 activities include aerosolizing (spraying) pathogens such as plague, tularemia and Q fever, in addition to anthrax. Moreover, government documents disclose that planned experiments in the BSL-3 include genetic modification and potentially novel manipulation of viruses, prions and other agents.” From 2005.

    Replication experiments stopped when?

    New FBI team assigned when?

    Search livermore anthrax fined.

  13. We are told that the US government was unable to replicate the physical and chemical properties of the attack anthrax and gave up trying to replicate it.

    That never happens. The US government does not give up trying to replicate any weapon it encounters. If someone has a weapon it can’t replicate, it just assigns more and more effort and money to replicate it until it happens.

    The only way they stopped the replication effort is because at a high level the signal came down to stop. That happened because someone at a high level who knows about a black ops program that can produce that type of physical and chemical signature decided to stop the replication effort.

    When the FBI were told to stop replication or were told that someone had told the scientists directly to stop, then the FBI management knew the attack anthrax came from a black ops program and not from Ivins lab. They knew at that point they were supposed to come up with a patsy to close the case.

    That is why they jumped on Ivins at the top level of the FBI when he committed suicide. That is why facts and reason don’t matter or sway them. That is why they fight a rear guard delaying action on every bit of evidence.

    • Another way to see this is as follows. Based on the public information on the silicon signature, etc. both Russia and China will task their scientists to replicate it. The US government thus has to replicate it.

      Otherwise, there would be a replication gap. And we know the US government rushes in to fill such gaps. Some party would be responsible for the replication gap. And you never get tagged with being weak on a replication gap.

    • This may have happened when the new team came in. The new team was not supposed to learn the science or learn the case. In fact, they were supposed to close the case before they could figure out what was happening.

  14. DXer said

    While I am in awe at the major revelations on the genetics, turning to the familiar issue silicon signature issue, one is reminded that the Frontline project is standing on the shoulders of a giant by virtue of having recruited McClatchy, whose Greg G. had one those previous landmark articles.

    Nowadays, one can cite a different leading NAS panel member on the issue without breaking stride.

    “Another area of contention is whether the killer tried to add a chemical to make the anthrax spores float more easily so they’d have a better chance of being inhaled. McClatchy first reported last spring that the FBI had failed to explain the presence of unusual levels of silicon and tin in two of the letters, since those elements aren’t part of the process of growing spores – and none of the spores in Ivins’ flask contained any silicon.

    David A. Relman, a Stanford University School of Medicine professor and vice chairman of a National Research Council committee that studied the investigation, said the scientific picture remained incomplete and that high levels of silicon in the letter sent to the New York Post was a “big discrepancy.”

    Read more:

    • barrykissin said

      The silicon-tin content in the attack anthrax just now being exposed in mainstream media will establish that the source of the anthrax letters was, as referred to in the New York Times this week, “classified government research on anthrax, carried out for years by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency.” (It is perfectly clear that Bruce Ivins had no knowledge of the secret weaponizing technology that features a tin-catalyzed silicon coating on the anthrax spores.) My hope is that this window on the terrible workings of our military-industrial-intelligence complex will contribute toward achieving the desperately needed systemic change now being demanded in occupations and protests across the country.

  15. barrykissin said

    This is the comment I made at
    Bingo! “If Dr. Ivins did not make the powder, one conceivable source might be classified government research on anthrax, carried out for years by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency.”

    This theme is developed further in the paper by the three scientists that is the focus of this article: “[T]he most likely sites of production of the letter anthrax are laboratories that work with dry spores: Battelle, Dugway, and DRES. Battelle, for example, is well-known for its aerosol study capabilities … There is no evidence that relevant samples were ever collected at Dugway, Battelle or other potentially suspect sites.”

    The cover-up of military-industrial-intelligence involvement is not only the work of the Bush Administration. The national security complex now dictates to the Obama administration. Witness that on March 15, 2011, the Obama administration announced it would oppose any reopening of Amerithrax because a reopening would “unfairly cast doubt on [the FBI’s] conclusions”!

    For an outline of the contours of the cover-up, see memo at

    Click to access FortAnthrax.pdf

  16. anonymous said

    From Emptywheel:
    Even as both scientists and journalists poke gaping holes in their now-closed investigation, the FBI continues to stand firm in its position that Ivins acted alone in the anthrax attacks, and their spokesman reiterated this position to Broad and Shane. Given the apparent momentum of the scientists and journalists, though, the FBI’s position begins to look more and more like something Saddam Hussein’s infamous “Baghdad Bob” would spout.

  17. DXer said

    Anthrax Uncertainty, Homeland Security Watch

  18. DXer said

    Anthrax Mystery Might Still Be Unsolved – comment

  19. DXer said

    AP (short version)

    Skeptical scientists prepare research paper questionings anthrax investigation findings

    By Associated Press, Updated: Monday, October 10, 2:57 PM

  20. DXer said

    Here it is at NBC

    and Pittsburgh

    and Minneapolis.

    but to get to the nooks and crannies, the AP version (which I presume is forthcoming) is especially important.

    These reporters sure have a dream — and very important — job.

  21. DXer said

    Research raises questions in anthrax case

  22. DXer said

    FBI’s Lone Wolf Case Against Ivins Continues to Crumble

    Posted on October 10, 2011 by Jim White

  23. DXer said

    Main Justice

    Scientists Raise New Doubts About FBI’s Probe of Anthrax Attacks

  24. Do large science publishers prevent biology as a field from posting working copies as happens in physics and business?

    Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Daniel Rubinfeld discusses possible antitrust violations by big bundle science publishers. This may be why the biology field is unable or afraid to publish working papers to the same extent as in other fields. Rubinfeld was head of the Economic Analysis Group of the Antitrust Division of the DOJ.

    Click to access Edlin-Rubinfeld%20ALJ%20Paper.pdf

    The paper concludes with a specific discussion of sections of the antitrust laws the science publishers may have violated.

    These antitrust violations may hinder the investigation of anthrax and hinder the GAO. For example, by preventing posting the working paper today.


    There is no disclosure of the title of the paper?

    Physics, business, and economics have preprint archives for papers such as SSRN and Maybe it is time that biologists discovered the Internet in scientific publication.

  26. DXer said

    On the issue of the silicon signature, 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 they 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. And it must be understood that “microencapsulation” is different than floatability. (The FBI created a straw man argument by framing the issue around floatability). The “Red Team” conclusion should not have been so readily accepted. (Moreover, those experts should have been identified consistent with FOIA). (As for Mr. Willman, he does not even reach the merits until touching on them in passing in an appendix after the epilogue in a book about the FBI’s sorority theory).

    Dr. Kiel could explain the controlled experiments he did and reported to me and Anonymous about using a silanizing solution in a fluidized bed dryer.

  27. DXer said

    Anonymous states … This DARPA budget document shows that DoD was experimenting with microencapsulated pathogens in 2000-2001 … Bruce Ivins could not have produced such a dry anthrax powder that was microencapsulated

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 7, 2011

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