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

* Dr. Paul Keim says the scientific investigation to confirm the link to Dr. Ivins would have taken another two years at a cost of $50 million, but will not be done now due to the cost and the fact that there is no criminal trial since Dr. Ivins committed suicide … LMW: and more important, isn’t Keim in effect saying that the FBI has no business claiming there is a link when the work hasn’t been done?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 17, 2011

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PEGGY GIRSHMAN writes at NPR.com (10/17/11) …

  • Paul Keim is a geneticist and director of the lab at Northern Arizona University that matched the strain of anthrax in the deadly letters to anthrax in Ivins’ lab. He’s also a researcher at TGen, a biomedical research institute.
  • Keim acknowledged Sunday at a meeting of science writers that the evidence linking Ivins to the crime would have needed additional scientific vetting to make a solid court case.
  • And he said that if Ivins hadn’t committed suicide, the scientific investigation would have continued for another two years. That would have been necessary, he said, to get to the “higher standards” of scientific proof required for criminal prosecution.
  • At a cost of $50 million, he said, continuing the work now would be too expensive for the government to pursue.

read the entire post at … http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/10/17/141426343/disease-detective-hot-on-the-trails-of-anthrax-and-cholera?ps=sh_stcathdl

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LMW COMMENT …

  • So is the FBI now saying it’s too expensive to prove its case against Ivins? Or is that just Paul Keim saying that?
  • But what if Ivins wasn’t the perpetrator? How much is it worth to know who committed the anthrax attacks and perhaps have a better chance of preventing another such attack.
  • Also, where does the $50 million estimate come from? That sounds way too high.
  • Releasing the documents currently being held in violation of FOIA would cost nothing.
  • and more important, isn’t Keim in effect saying that the FBI has no business claiming there is a link when the work hasn’t been done?

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9 Responses to “* Dr. Paul Keim says the scientific investigation to confirm the link to Dr. Ivins would have taken another two years at a cost of $50 million, but will not be done now due to the cost and the fact that there is no criminal trial since Dr. Ivins committed suicide … LMW: and more important, isn’t Keim in effect saying that the FBI has no business claiming there is a link when the work hasn’t been done?”

  1. DXer said

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21962024
    BMC Genomics. 2011 Sep 30;12:477. doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-12-477.
    An attenuated strain of Bacillus anthracis (CDC 684) has a large chromosomal inversion and altered growth kinetics.
    Okinaka RT1, Price EP, Wolken SR, Gruendike JM, Chung WK, Pearson T, Xie G, Munk C, Hill KK, Challacombe J, Ivins BE, Schupp JM, Beckstrom-Sternberg SM, Friedlander A, Keim P.
    Author information

    Abstract
    BACKGROUND:
    An isolate originally labeled Bacillus megaterium CDC 684 was found to contain both pXO1 and pXO2, was non-hemolytic, sensitive to gamma-phage, and produced both the protective antigen and the poly-D-glutamic acid capsule. These phenotypes prompted Ezzell et al., (J. Clin. Microbiol. 28:223) to reclassify this isolate to Bacillus anthracis in 1990.
    RESULTS:
    We demonstrate that despite these B. anthracis features, the isolate is severely attenuated in a guinea pig model. This prompted whole genome sequencing and closure. The comparative analysis of CDC 684 to other sequenced B. anthracis isolates and further analysis reveals: a) CDC 684 is a close relative of a virulent strain, Vollum A0488; b) CDC 684 defines a new B. anthracis lineage (at least 51 SNPs) that includes 15 other isolates; c) the genome of CDC 684 contains a large chromosomal inversion that spans 3.3 Mbp; d) this inversion has caused a displacement of the usual spatial orientation of the origin of replication (ori) to the termination of replication (ter) from 180° in wild-type B. anthracis to 120° in CDC 684 and e) this isolate also has altered growth kinetics in liquid media.
    CONCLUSIONS:
    We propose two alternative hypotheses explaining the attenuated phenotype of this isolate. Hypothesis 1 suggests that the skewed ori/ter relationship in CDC 684 has altered its DNA replication and/or transcriptome processes resulting in altered growth kinetics and virulence capacity. Hypothesis 2 suggests that one or more of the single nucleotide polymorphisms in CDC 684 has altered the expression of a regulatory element or other genes necessary for virulence.

  2. DXer said

    Is the government really so incompetent to think that taxpayer money is well spent when all they needed to do was given Bruce Ivins his emails and notebooks so he could reconstruct his time from 7 years earlier? Dickens, I think, once said that law is an ass. Well, so is science.

  3. DXer said

    “Dr. Tawfiq Hamid, who has a current column on Al Qaeda’s deception is the author of INSIDE JIHAD. He describes his recruitment by Dr. Ayman Zawhiri in his book in insightful detail.

    He is lifelong friend of the man supplied virulent Ames by Bruce Ivins, Tarek Hamouda. Dr. Hamouda would come to visit Cairo as a child from Khartoum where his mother was a professor.

    In numerous patents, Dr. Hamouda thanked Patricia Fellows for supplying technical assistance and Bruce Ivins for supplying virulent Ames.

    Dr. Fellows made a large amount of virulent Ames that was to replenish RMR 1029 ( and be used for things such as DARPA experiments) that is missing.

    There is no contemporaneous documentation confirming its original stock but again, it was intended to replenish RMR 1029.

    Neither Dr. Hamouda nor Dr. Fellows will respond to my inquiries.

    Dr. Hamid’s brother knows Dr. Hamouda better (it was his brother that was in Dr. Hamouda’s class when all three were at Cairo Medical).

    The brother is a St. Louis doctor who was in Ann Arbor area prior to 9/11. Dr. Hamid’s brother, last I knew, would not speak to the brother who is the author of INSIDE JIHAD because Tawfiq’s cooperation with intelligence authorities. He organized a conference among physicians and conducted a radio interview in which he explained he could not tell the FBI about a sleeper cell if he did not know about it.”

    Instead of this nonsense of spending $50 million to try to get to answers, GAO should try picking up the phone. Dr. Fellows and Dr. Hamouda will not answer my inquiries but might answer GAO’s questions.

    COMMENT:

    Paul Keim’s key assistant in collecting the samples, Kimothy Smith, was one of the people Tarek Hamouda thanked for providing a Biolevel 3 containment facility to use. And so before squandering another $50 million FOR JUST LIMITING THOSE WITH ACCESS TO AMES FROM 700 TO “UP TO 377” …WHICH IS ALL THE GENETICS STUDY ACCOMPLISHED … GAO should drop a dime to Kimothy and get some answers. He too won’t respond to inquiries.

    • DXer said

      question for GAO:

      Who threw out Dr. Ivins February 2002 sample showing the 4 morphs? Terry Abshire in a statement filed in connection with FOIA says she passed it on to an FBI scientist and THEN it was thrown out. Who did Ezzell/Abshire forward it to?

  4. anonymous said

    It only cost $100 do do the ICP-OES test for tin. And another $100 for silicon.

    But for some reason low cost scientific analysis was deemed not worthy of forensic consideration – mostly because it couldn’t be linked to USAMRIID – it was thus EXCULPATORY to USAMRIID.

  5. DXer said

    The reasonable conclusion that microbial forensics effort as to genetics was not viable with respect to use in a courtroom. It can be understood akin to the polygraph and used only to develop leads. There is a level of unreality in discussion of Amerithrax. Consider that the head of the WFO did not even meet with investigators for the first 6 months. In that time, there could have been on-the-record interviews in October 2001 and November 2001 of everyone who worked with Ames detailing what they were doing on those nights.

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