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

* After the 9/11 attacks, a short-lived two-person rule prevented the same hours in the B3 alone after December 2001 – why did AUSA Rachel Lieber not know that?

Posted by DXer on November 27, 2011



16 Responses to “* After the 9/11 attacks, a short-lived two-person rule prevented the same hours in the B3 alone after December 2001 – why did AUSA Rachel Lieber not know that?”

  1. DXer said

    How did AUSA Lieber and Vahid Majidi not understand that there WAS NO TWO-PERSON RULE AT USAMRID prior to 2002. Their misunderstanding underlay the entire Ivins Theory.

    Their mistake was very simple and is easily understood. It is easy to understand now and it was easy for all the USAMRIID scientists to know in Fall 2001. Why didn’t the FBI correct its mistake?

    • DXer said

      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.

      • DXer said

        After the two person rule was first implemented in 2002, it proved unworkable. For Dr. Majidi to base his Ivins Theory on his mistaken assertion that a two person rule existed at USAMRIID in 2001 is unfathomable. He should not be relying on his own personal experiences at a former employer — but on contemporaneous documents from USAMRIID.

        While USAMRIID already had efforts in each of these areas, the Army guidelines imposed additional requirements. Some were costly–like additional security cameras, x-ray machines and other security measures. Others were burdensome–such as the “two man rule” that required researchers accustomed to working independently to have an observer present. In small labs that were crowded to begin with, this requirement quickly proved unworkable.

      • DXer said

        Dr. Majidi should correct his mistakes and stop marketing the false claim that there was a two person rule in 2001.

        Dr. Vahid Majidi does not understand why so many distinguished USAMRIID scientists disagree with him.

        Maybe it is because they know something he doesn’t. For one, they know that there was no two person rule in 2001. And they kept telling the FBI that.

        Why didn’t Vahid Majidi leave out his argument about how Jeffrey Dahmer’s friends thought he was a nice guy too? Instead, Vahid should focus on the merits of the arguments being explained by USAMRIID scientists, both in the press and in 302 interview statements to the FBI.

        For Dr. Majidi to not correct his Kindle book proves the point that the FBI in fact does NOT in fact correct its mistakes as he claims.

        He is repeatings the same conclusory and provably false assertions a half decade later.

        The Biosecurity protocols were all available to Dr. Majidi in 2008 — both pre-2001 and post-2001.

        When I last looked at the polling, 80% of the Frederick population would vote to acquit. 60% thought he was innocent and 20% were not sure.

        Biosurety Related Regulatory Changes and dates of implementation are linked here in this City of Frederick document. The issues that Vahid is getting so wrong are known by the numerous USAMRIID scientists who have given depositions under oath debunking an Ivins Theory and its mistaken factual premises.

        • DXer said

          I would regularly consult with Dr. Richard Ebright when such questions would arise. In 2009, he wrote:

          Rutgers University Richard Ebright says there are a lot of other labs. In an email to Wired Magazine’s Danger Room blog, Ebright wrote:

          Very few of the 400 institutions has a two-person rule (a rule requiring that at least two persons be present when bioweapons agents are handled).

          How come the most senior WMD at FBI did not know this — even to this day?!

    • DXer said

      The Department of Justice, Civil Division, correctly explains that no 2-person rule applied to RMR-1029. Dr. Majidi should correct his Kindle book and then re-upload it. 2013 is the year to start getting things right.


      Click to access 110715-155-Statement-of-Facts.pdf

      PATHOGENS ACCOUNTABILITY RULES AND USAMRIID COMPLIANCE Army Regulation 70-65 — Inventorying and Two-Person Rule for Reference Stocks

      23. Up to the time of the anthrax letter attacks, Army Regulation (AR) 70-65, Research, Development and Acquisition – Management of Controlled Substances, Ethyl Alcohol, and Hazardous Substances in Army Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Facilities (1979) ch. 3, was Army’s policy governing accountability and security of anthrax and other controlled biological research materials – both for reference stocks and working stocks of agents. Ex. 15: AR 70-65; Ex. 8: Eitzen Dep. at 53-54, 169-70; accord Ex. 6: Salerno Dep. at 184, 215-17, 258- 60.

      24. AR 70-65 prescribed a two-person rule for pathogen access, and annual inventorying and reports, only for “reference stocks” held in USAMRIID’s central repository, and not for “working stocks,” which it defined as “Any passage of a strain of microorganisms or toxins in any quantity authorized by the commander to meet needs clearly identified in approved research protocols, test plans, and project/study directives.” Declaration of Rita R. Colwell ¶¶ 103-04 (quoting Ex. 15: AR 70-65 at ¶ 3-1c, ARMY02-001731); Ex. 12: Welkos Dep. at 98 (Bacteriology Division stocks are “working stocks” under AR 70-65); Ex. 2: Andrews Dep. at 49 (“reference strains are sealed strains” – archival material).)
      5Case 9:03-cv-81110-DTKH Document 155-1 Entered on FLSD Docket 07/15/2011 Page 7 of 25

      25. As scientists familiar with USAMRIID testified, RMR-1029 was “working stock” as defined by AR 70-65, and not subject to the AR 70-65 procedural requirements for “reference stocks,” defined as the lowest passage/ earliest culture of a pathogen and held in a central repository. Ex. 14: Jahrling Dep. at 27-29, 71-73 (“clearly not reference stock”); Ex. 2: Andrews Dep. at 177-78 (flasks of anthrax material used by Ivins were working stock); Ex. 8: Eitzen Dep. at 68, 172-73; Ex. 3: Worsham Dep. at 73.

      26. Under AR 70-65, the working stock requirements were left to the discretion of the commander. Ex. 6: Salerno Dep. at 258-60. AR 70-65 “left wide open how the facility could manage access and use of working materials.” Id. at 215-17. There was no inventorying requirement for working stocks; stocks were decentralized, with each investigator free to keep an individual inventory. Ex. 12: Welkos Dep. at 98; Ex. 8: Eitzen Dep. at 182-83 (USAMRIID Commander would likely need commanding general’s approval to require inventorying for working stocks).

      27. USAMRIID complied with AR 70-65 requirements governing pathogens – both for “reference stocks” held in the central repository, and “working stocks.” Ex. 14: Jahrling Dep. at 27-29, 71-72; Ex. 8: Eitzen Dep. at 55-56, 193; Ex. 12: Welkos Dep. at 47-48, 99-101; Ex. 10: Arrison Dep. at 56-58, 60-61; Ex. 6: Salerno Dep. at 215-17, 258.

      28. Prior to the anthrax letter attacks, USAMRIID had closed-circuit television video surveillance of the central repository where “reference stocks” were held. Ex. 8: Eitzen Dep. at 123.

      29. Because the anthrax used to attack Mr. Stevens was derived from flask RMR-1029, which was working stock, not reference stock, AR 70-65 was not violated.

      30. Plaintiffs allege, erroneously, that the United States “failed to adequately secure” anthrax in that “as early as 1992, samples of this formidable, dangerous, and highly lethal [anthrax and other] organism[s] were known to be missing from the [USAMRIID] lab at Ft. Detrick.” Compl., ECF No. 1 at ¶ 9. The supposedly “missing” samples were inactivated, killed pathogens that “were non-viable, non-infectious, and never a hazard to the public or environment.” Each sample was, in essence, killed repeatedly, first killed with an overabundance of gamma radiation, and then “killed” with an “aldehyde fixative” or formaldehyde – a process that included “dehydration through ethanols, and finally embedded in resin, which would have killed it again.. There was no hazard to anyone from the dead pathogens or blocks containing them. Ex. 16: Letter from Edward Eitzen to USA TODAY (Feb. 6, 2002), USAM-19803-04; Ex. 8: Eitzen Dep. at 164-67; Ex. 14: Jahrling Dep. at 56-59; Ex. 17: Information Paper: [USAMRIID] Response to Press Articles (Jan. 21, 2002) at USAM-19788. Also, the samples were not lost or “missing” from a lab at Ft. Detrick because the pertinent office, the Pathology Division, was located off-post in leased commercial space, where “[o]nly inactivated materials were taken.” Ex. 17: Information Paper at USAM-19792. Subsequent investigation confirmed that no samples were missing. Ex. 8: Eitzen Letter at USAM-19804. Also, before the letter attacks, USAMRIID was not known to have any problem with accountability or inventory management for live anthrax stocks. Ex. 1: Byrne Dep. at 63 (former Chief of Bacteriology Division unaware of any problem with anthrax accountability or inventory management).

      • DXer said

        Here is a CDC publication explaining the issue in the context of BL-4 (as distinguished from BL-3) labs. Dr. Majidi’s mistake on the 2-person rule, without more, explains his confusion on Amerithrax. Five years after Dr. Ivins’ death, he still has not corrected the mistake. He continues to propagate the mistake in his September 2013 Kindle book. His friend and former boss, the new FBI Director James Comey, will not be able to consider whether Amerithrax needs to be reopened unless and until he is given the correct advice the former DOJ “Science Guy” (who became the head FBI WMD guy).

        We all make mistakes — some more than others. The key is whether we correct them when the country is counting on us to correct and acknowledge our mistakes for the safety of our country.
        Volume 15, Number 7—July 2009

        Potential Impact of a 2-Person Security Rule on BioSafety Level 4 Laboratory Workers

        James W. LeDuc , Kevin Anderson, Marshall E. Bloom, Ricardo Carrion, Heinz Feldmann, J. Patrick Fitch, Joan B. Geisbert, Thomas W. Geisbert, Michael R. Holbrook, Peter B. Jahrling, Thomas G. Ksiazek, Jean Patterson, and Pierre E. Rollin
        Author affiliations: University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, USA (J.W. LeDuc, M.R. Holbrook, T.G. Ksiazek); National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center, Frederick, Maryland, USA (K. Anderson, J.P. Fitch); National Institutes of Health, Hamilton, Montana, USA (M.E. Bloom, H. Feldmann); Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, San Antonio, Texas, USA (R. Carrion Jr, J. Patterson); Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA (J.B. Geisbert, T.W. Geisbert); National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA (P.B. Jahrling); and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA (P. Rollin)
        Suggested citation for this article


        Directors of all major BioSafety Level 4 (BSL-4) laboratories in the United States met in 2008 to review the current status of biocontainment laboratory operations and to discuss the potential impact of a proposed 2-person security rule on maximum-containment laboratory operations. Special attention was paid to the value and risks that would result from a requirement that 2 persons be physically present in the laboratory at all times. A consensus emerged indicating that a video monitoring system represents a more efficient, economical standard; provides greater assurance that pathogens are properly manipulated; and offers an increased margin of employee safety and institutional security. The 2-person security rule (1 to work and 1 to observe) may decrease compliance with dual responsibilities of safety and security by placing undue pressure on the person being observed to quickly finish the work, and by placing the observer in the containment environment unnecessarily.

        Typically, the daily flow of work in a biocontainment laboratory involves >2 persons working near each other. Although the primary role of each person is to perform his or her work and not to monitor their coworker, there would still be ample opportunity to render aid if needed or to observe untoward activities. The risk issues of the 2-person rule arise when the normal activity in the laboratory is insufficient to satisfy the rule in every active area of the BSL-4 laboratory. These issues will occur frequently outside normal working hours, i.e., evenings, weekends, or holidays, and also during regular working shifts as project-specific tasks are completed asynchronously.

    • DXer said

      In a speech this week, former FBI Director Louis Freeh lamented Washington culture and said that officials are too unwilling to admit errors.

      Why do academics understand it is important to correct their mistakes when submitting articles publications that only other academics read — but that they don’t have to correct their mistakes when marketing their claim some one’s father, who has passed away, is guilty of murder?

      Academic journals require an article to be withdrawn in such a case. When a book is self-published, it is up to the author.

  2. DXer said

    Why did Vahid Majidi not know that there was no two person rule at USAMRIID prior to January 2002? In his book, he generalizes from his own experience.

    Given that it was in fact ALLOWED at USAMRIID, his suggestion that it was improper is inexcusable. It wasn’t. Ask his managers. The 2-person rule was implemented in January in January 2002.

    Prior to that, night checks were a one person job and would take a couple of hours. See Mara Linscott 302 statement.

    United States Attorney Taylor may have gotten his misinformation from Vahid Majidi who should have known better — the date of implementation of the two-person rule at USAMRIID was a matter of public record.

  3. DXer said

    This week the multitasking USAMRIID/USMRC FOIA, which has always been wonderfully diligent at all levels — putting aside the delays that ensued due to DOJ/FBI interference and DOJ/FBI review of productions prior to February 2010 — will produce 6 important documents from the summer and Fall 2001.

    Now that the documents have been located, the redactions of the names of individuals under exemption (b)(6) won’t take long.

    I have indicated the next requests I will file after the queue is cleared.

    But given its illuminating interviews of scientists, I encourage GAO to focus on document production of contemporaneous documents from the September and October 2001 period — especially the issue of location of the missing Apple laptop that was installed in Suite B3 in the summer of 2001. The surfing history of that laptop — if it can be retrieved — would provide a roadmap of times of what someone sitting in front of the laptop was viewing throughout the August-October 2001 period. I suspect the computer forensic capabilities of GAO rival that of the Secret Service.

    Even absent the laptop, the dates and times of emails to Pat and Mara (never disclosed by the AUSA), would identify the pattern of his whereabouts at those times — to include the email he sent on September 17 to Mara that the DOJ has failed to produce despite a request over a half year ago.

    • DXer said

      A simultaneous obsession with kids and sexual matters are certainly potential red flags. But such red flags points to sexual misconduct rather than unrelated crimes. The AUSA says she doesn’t understand the connection between Dr. Ivins’ keen interest in sororities and the anthrax mailings. And that is precisely the point. Proving his interest (he was quite candid in describing it) is not the problem — proving its relevance and probativeness IS. Admissibility of unrelated misconduct does not hinge on proving events of 25 years earlier, it requires showing the connection. In the case of Dr. Berry, DOJ wanted to rely on forging of a will. In the case of Dr. Hatfill, the DOJ wanted to rely on forging of a diploma. In the case of Dr. Ivins, the DOJ wanted to rely on forging of a letter to the editor.

      There was extreme sexual misconduct in the AUSA’s office at the same time that led to a firing of a senior attorney that involved conduct similar to Fine’s conduct — at least in the aggressive and pointed display of the sexual organ. At the work place no less. And if I know this it would be unwise to underestimate what I know about the emails from DOJ/FBI about withholding of Ivins’ emails from production. But no one is suggesting the sexual misconduct in the AUSA’s office involved unrelated criminal conduct — just that it led to emotional turmoil and missteps in true crime analysis that has put the country at peril. Dr. Ayman is a murderous fanatic and the CIA learned that it is deadly to underestimate his cunning and ability to plan an operation involving a triple agent.

      Now would a judge prevented defense from raising that misconduct in the US Attorney’s Office? One certainly would hope that it would be excluded on the grounds of relevance. One would certainly hope that everyone agrees the important documents are the very ones that the AUSA is withholding — the contemporaneous notebooks and the related depositions by Mara and Pat.

      I have no problem in the DOJ arguing its sorority theory so long as it produces the more relevant documents — all the contemporaneous documents from the Summer and Fall of 2001 that it has withheld under FOIA in violation of that statute.

      Bruce suggested that Pat took the laptop with her. The FBI should have obtained the laptop and then made available the relevant documents under FOIA.

      Fine’s status with Sigma Alpha Mu chapter unclear after dismissal from coaching staff
      By Meghin Delaney

      • DXer said

        The senior attorney in the US Attorney’s fired was the attorney who made the assignments.

        Some obsessions with beautiful women lead to flawed analysis and poor judgments.

        OTOH., some obsessions with beautiful women explain the quest for a clarity in analysis intended to avoid the murder of CIA employees by a triple agent sent by Dr. Ayman.

        Anyone who wants to avoid a mass anthrax attack on DC — because they have loved ones there — will not tolerate the guesswork and speculation and provable mistakes that characterizes the DOJ’s analysis in Amerithrax. They will press for documents and reliable information.

        Pst… Rachel relied on Dr. Ivins’ first counselor who then wrote a book in 2009 explaining that in 2000-2000 she was being pursued by murderous astral entities and was controlled by an alien who implanted a device in her butt. Rachel is mistaken if she thinks that trial would have gone well for her. She needed to do a better job of vetting evidence and witnesses.

      • DXer said

        Prosecutorial misconduct only results in the dismissal of murder indictments if relevant to the prosecution.

        After Dr. Ivins committed suicide, the lead Amerithrax prosecutor Ken Kohl was busy with the Blackwater investigation and thus was unable to assess the Amerithrax investigation.

        Prosecutors Visit Blackwater Shooting Site

        Click to access 110715-155-Statement-of-Facts.pdf

        The Blackwater indictments were dismissed because of prosecutorial misconduct by Mr. Kohl, the same prosecutor who was the lead Amerithrax prosecutor. (It coincidentally was Dr. Hatfill’s defense counsel who moved for dismissal)

        Judge Drops Charges From Blackwater Deaths in Iraq
        Published: December 31, 2009

        Because the time of the lead prosecutor AUSA Kohl was understandably consumed by Blackwater, it was all the more important that his assistant, AUSA Lieber, double-check the reliability and correctness of the evidence on which she was basing her theory.

        Then the man who was standing up at the podium with Mr. Kohl — the head of the DC FBI FIeld Office — left the job within a few months after cheating on an open book exam on how to conduct national security investigations (being fed the answers by the attorney).

        His two assistants were reassigned also for the same reason. (To be sure, the material was hard and questions difficult — sort of like investigative facts in a complex true crime matter).

        So that left AUSA Lieber and lead investigator Montooth holding down the fort. It’s nice that Mr. Montooth is still comfortable with an Ivins Theory. But what we really needed was/is an investigator and prosecutor who urges compliance with FOIA.

        Truth-seekers want the production of documents not exempt under FOIA, regardless what they say.

        Everyone wants the same thing: clarity and confirmation of the correct analysis based on reliable evidence. The difference is that one side is pressing for disclosure of relevant documents and the other side is withholding them.

        Meanwhile, the matter involves a continued threat of the use of anthrax in a mass attack by Dr. Ayman Zawahiri.

        Amerithrax has been an exercise in foolishness. Millions were spent in a study of morphs when it only served to narrow things from 700 to up to 377 — and, truth be told, the same people at USAMRIID had access to both Ames with and without the particular 4 morphs. At the same time, the FBI withheld inexpensive scientific studies — and continues to withhold them — that are exculpatory (such as the mass spec examination of the photocopier toner).

        How many more millions will Paul Keim seek — in an attempt to validate the inconsequential winnowing — before he recommends to DOJ that they comply with FOIA as to other more probative scientific work?

  4. DXer said

    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.”

  5. DXer said

    The first thing they teach in introductory statistics is how a misleading picture can be painted. Here, in understanding the bar graphs relating to time, the first thing you have to understand is that the animals were in B3. Both Rachel the AUSA and the lead investigator understand this.

    Next you want to do study the protocol of the experiments to see what was involved.

    Were there two animal checks or three? The trend was toward three animal checks — when there were only two there was no need for a night shift at all.

    As another example of a detail one would want to know… was blood drawn for the bacteremia study only after day 2 as it was done on one earlier rabbit study? Or was it done daily as it had been done on the rhesus monkeys.

    Even more fundamentally, did Dr. Ivins handle the autoclaving? The AUSA never reviewed the autoclave records. It takes about a couple hours to autoclave the dead animals and would be done by the last person in for the day.

    Did Dr. Ivins handle the euthanasia when he came across a suffering animal? How long does the AUSA think it takes to kill by injection dozens of animals and what is the basis for her learning?

    Rachel’s view of the bar chart brought to her by Lawrence Alexander in 2007 needed to be only the first step in reconstructing his timeline.

    If GAO contacts John Peterson of USAMRC, and obtains his email correspondence with DOJ and FBI, GAO will find that DOJ and FBI caused entire emails to be pulled from protection. Each batch involved a protracted review by numerous people that would take a long time and then would result in the culling of info that DOJ and FBI did not want produced.

    GAO is perfectly able to judge whether the FOIA exemptions applied and to understand that the law required that the pulling of the email required a sheet with notice that it was exempt from disclosure (so that the grounds could be challenged where appropriate).

    Moreover, the email record to and from John will show who was responsible for the pulling of emails — absent a justification under FOIA.

    The pulling of entire emails was a serious, and easily proved, violation of FOIA.

    That should be a key focus of the Government Accountability Office.

    And Rachel should study the Bernie Fine matter at Syracuse University as a case study and understand the difference a single day can make.

    Then she should pick up the phone and urge the FOIA office to expedite all pending FOIA requests in compliance with the FOIA statute.

    • DXer said

      Rachel and Agent Lawrence Alexander include the first half of 1998 in their 5 year chart when the B3 lab did not even get a key card reader until the second half of the year! (That is why the chart shows zero hours alone in the B3 in 1425).

      Even more fundamentally, the reason for the shift in hours to the B3 in 1425 was the general trend away from aerosol to subcutaneous. Aerosol needed to be done in Building 1412 and subcutaneous was done in Building 1425. Dr. Ivins preferred parenteral or subcutaneous because it involved fewer people. Indeed, with aerosol you didn’t have just one alone — the fact it could be done by one person alone was the very reason for subcutaneous challenges were preferred.

      If there wasn’t so much turmoil going on in that AUSA’s office, maybe some of these finer points might have been appreciated.

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