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

* The Instructions For Preparing and Shipping TSA Slants for B. anthracis Ames Expressly Note That An Equivalent Can Be Used; Special Pathogens Laboratory Itself Submitted Home-made Slants In May 2002

Posted by DXer on January 9, 2012



17 Responses to “* The Instructions For Preparing and Shipping TSA Slants for B. anthracis Ames Expressly Note That An Equivalent Can Be Used; Special Pathogens Laboratory Itself Submitted Home-made Slants In May 2002”

  1. DXer said

    The NG fictionalized made-for-tv show really went off the tracks on this slant issue. Heck, the FBI’s own lab collecting the samples used an equivalent slant (like Ivins did). Thus, the FBI’s analysis on this issue was botched for numerous independent reasons.

    Again, why did the FBI allow Ivins submissions to be destroyed? It was THEIR scientist who threw them out. You should never destroy evidence in a criminal investigation. Label it, store it. Set it aside. Anything else constitutes spoliation of evidence. And the FBI’s spoliation of evidence then incredibly was used as an argument to make Ivins look guilty.

    Dr. Ezzell wrote a chapter in (the first edition) microbiology text, as I recall, urging that evidence always be preserved.

  2. DXer said

    Scott Stanley and R. Scott Decker arranged to have Ivins’ February submission rejected — and it was thrown out. Yet the

    The Instructions For Preparing and Shipping TSA Slants for B. anthracis Ames Expressly Note That An Equivalent Can Be Used; Special Pathogens Laboratory Itself Submitted Home-made Slants In May 2002

    That flask supplied the Ames that was used by a member of Decker’s haz mat unit (John Ezzell) to make a dried powder — a fact that Decker INCREDIBLY NEVER acknowledges in his book.

    Hadn’t Scott Stanley been in that FBI haz mat unit with Decker and Ezzell?

    We need less CYA spin — and fewer conflicts of interest — and more compliance with FOIA from the United States Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    • DXer said

      Stanley was embedded with Ezzell and Abshire. Getting cooperation about the specifications to be used didn’t exactly come easy:

      • DXer said

        In his book published last year arguing that Ivins was guilty, despite what all the FBI experts like Keim, Worsham and Fraser-Liggett say, R. Scott Decker specifically relies on the issue of the Spring 2002 submissions of samples. Decker says that Ivins mentioned (in a final interview) May 2002 as to what in 2008 he recalled as to when the protocol was provided. Decker argued that Ivins was lying and that if he hadn’t committed suicide under the pressure he could have been indicted based on the lies. Well, I see the email from Ivins’ technician above asking for the slant and protocol for preparing the slant cultures above. This request is from May 2002. Perhaps a FOIA request would help shed additional light on the earlier submissions and get people on the same page so we don’t have to rely on people’s recollections from years past.

        Hey, USAMRMC FOIA:

        This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I request the work emails of late USAMRIID scientist John Ezzell from September 11, 2001 through June 1, 2002. I was sorry to hear of the passing of the renown USAMRIID scientist, John Ezzell, a few years back. He helped collect the Ivins and other Ames anthrax samples for the FBI. Among other things, he examined the mailed anthrax and his lab collected the samples from Bruce Ivins. The FBI, in part, constructs what I consider a “cotton-candy” Ivins Theory based on vague suppositions relating to the submission of the Ivins submissions, in February and then April and May 2002.

        I request a waiver of all fees for this request. Disclosure of the requested information to me is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in my commercial interest.

        Amerithrax continues to be of keen public interest. For example, there was a television show on Amerithrax a few nights ago on “Deadly Intelligence.” Exclusive: Guilt of ‘anthrax killer’ Dr. Bruce Ivins questioned on “Deadly Intelligence,” Monsters and, Apr 21, 2018.

        [ Exclusive: Guilt of ‘anthrax killer’ Dr. Bruce Ivins questioned on Deadly Intelligence
        21st April 2018 April Neale ]

        This month, the former Attorney General, Michael Mukasey, echos the suggestion that Bruce Ivins was innocent in a recent Wall Street Journal article. (He was Attorney General at the time an Ivins Theory was announced).

        The lead investigator, Richard Lambert, has said that the FBI is withholding a staggering amount of information that is exculpatory of Bruce Ivins. See, e.g., Ex-FBI official: Agency is hiding evidence in anthrax case, Ex-FBI official: Agency is hiding evidence in anthrax case, April 15, 2015. He has brought a whistleblower’s suit in federal district court against the FBI.

        [ Ex-FBI official: Agency is hiding evidence in anthrax case, April 15, 2015 ]

        There is also a book out “Recounting the Anthrax Attacks” by a former FBI investigator that focuses on John Ezzell’s work and his collection of samples.

        As you know, the USAMRMC has worked tirelessly to upload thousands of pages, as requested, responsive to targeted FOIA requests of USAMRIID documents that might get the public on the same page. I profoundly appreciate the work that you and your colleagues have done over the years. Your FOIA electronic room will go down in history as a testament to operation of the rule of law at its best.

        With respect to any documents provided by Ken Dillon in his pending lawsuit under FOIA for emails from Sept-Oct 2001 that the FBI culled from the USAMRMC production made by John Peterson — while the FBI investigation was still open and the directed culling was required — I will provide them for uploading when the federal court orders them produced.

        The Army has served its country well.”

      • DXer said

        Click to access response%20to%20repository-related%20FOIA%20redacted.pdf

        So let’s turn to the documentary evidence in understanding R. Scott Decker’s spinning of his recollection as to the submission of Ivins’ submissions of samples in the Spring of 2002.

        His former colleague, Richard Lambert, says that the FBI is withholding a staggering amount of information exculpatory of Bruce Ivins — that is, that debunks Dr. Decker’s claims that the evidence establishes Ivins’ guilt.

        See also the sworn testimony of the FBI’s expert on the 4 morphs:

        Dr. Patricia Worsham, a leading anthrax and genetics expert who testified before the NAS, was not persuaded by the FBI’s argument on the issue of “morphs” and sample submissions
        Posted on January 14, 2014

        (In his book, although Decker read the Worsham civil deposition, he does not note the sworn contrary opinion of the FBI’s expert and makes his argument unsupported by any expert testimony).

        But let’s see what we can learn on the issue from documents produced so far under FOIA and turn to the March 31, 2005 interview that Richard Lambert conducted of Bruce Ivins. We have available Bruce Ivins’ memo to Agent Lambert, who was the lead Amerithrax investigator.

        First, as to the emails from the September 2001 and October 2001 that the FBI is wrongfully withholding from Ken Dillon under FOIA, Ivins writes:

        “Emails in the September 2001 through October 2001 timeframe. Those emails should be in the computer information that ______________ got from my office computer. There are many emails in that timeframe in the “OLD FOLDERS AND FILES” FOLDER.”
        The FBI is wrongfully withholding those emails from Dillon. They were culled from the production of emails made by USAMRMC’s John Peterson — upon written instruction from a member/s of the large group of DOJ/FBI officials reviewing the production.

        Second, as to the “Request for the first subpoena (early 2002) asking for our stocks. I gave the subpoena to _________________.

        Third, as to the first materials sent to the Repository, Bruce Ivins writes: I gave to ________________ the information. I’m sorry that I didn’t clarify that “Dugway Ames Spores – 1997” is also known as (is the same” as RMR 1029. The material was also known as “GLP Ames spores,” even they actually weren’t technically GLP quality. As I related to you yesterday, I honestly don’t remember who actually streaked the slants (___________________ or myself), whether the slants were directly inoculated from the stocks or frem sheep blood agar plates. If the latter, I don’t know specifically how many colonies were used to inoculate each slant. I regret that the _________ spore stocks were overlooked in the first materials provided to the repository.

        Fourth, as to “I-1” (the so-called Iraq sample that Ivins was given by JE), Ivins writes: “We found it in the refrigerator in my lab in _____and it was put into the FBI lock box in the ___ coldroom.

        Fifth, he told the FBI storage in Building 1412. And so the US Attorney’s and Majidi’s claim that it was only stored in Building 1425 — which was the entire premise of its Ivins Theory (see the transcript of the press conference)— was known to be crock at the time the Ivins Theory was announced.

        Ivins writes:

        “Where the flasks of RMR 1029 were kept. Since we had a lab ______________________ at the time, and since the spores were intended for aerosols, it’s possible that at least one of the flasks was kept in the lab refrigerator in ___ or in the 1st floor cloakroom (much less likely) for a certain amount of time. We were eventually I think it was probably before 2001 – “moved out” of the area by Aerobiology, and at that point may have brought RMR 1029 material back to ______. I honestly don’t remember, but it would make sense.

        Next, he writes that “The time period for helping BioPort was April, 2000 into the fall of 2001.”

        Finally, as ol “Lyophilized spores,” I related to you yesterday that frozen spores, once thawed, look very poor. They clump and have lost considerable refractivity. When materials such as proteins, viruses or vegetative bacterial cells is lyophilized, a “cryoprotectant” such as glycerol, albumin, sucrose, DMSO, etc is used to keep the material from being damaged during freezing and thawing. I don’t know if your scientists have looked for the presence of a cryoprotectant in the evidence, but that might be a reasonable idea.”

        Click to access response%20to%20repository-related%20FOIA%20redacted.pdf

        Rather than relying on self-serving spin, we should always turn to the most contemporaneous evidence available — and thus I have requested under FOIA this week the emails of the late and honorable John Ezzell whose lab was collecting the samples.

    • DXer said

      Ezra Cohen-Watnick,

      Maybe the handsome fellow who did my graphics was from the Defense Clandestine Service. (I have no idea).

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

    • DXer said

      Scott Decker did not discuss the directions on submission to his technician Friend taken in a search from his house. (Although assigned to Ivins, she worked for the FBI collecting and processing samples).

      Item 25:
      “Notes on submission & Kristi Friend directions to Kristie Friend.”
      Room K
      Left corner of bed
      PI Garcia

      With FBI Agent Darin Steele embedded in the Ezzell lab, he may have been the one to throw out the early February 2002 submission. Not preserving it was against protocol explained in the Budowie treatise — the original chapter on preservation of evidence was authored by none other than Dr. Ezzell, given his expertise.

      GAO Should Obtain From The FBI The Laboratory Chain-Of-Custody Form that has a space that identifies who destroyed the Feb. 02 sample submitted by Dr. Ivins and states the reasons it was not preserved (such as the others that were preserved using different slants)
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 7, 2012

      Even Special Pathogens is listed as having submitted a presumed home-made slant (and it was not thrown out).

      Did the FBI Scientist Throw Out The Other Slants That Did Not Use Specified TSA Remel Slant Or Only Dr. Ivins’ February 2002 Submission From RMR 1029 From Which Its Scientists Had Made A Dried Powder? Who Threw It Out?
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 7, 2012

      Note, moreover, that the NAS was not persuaded by the FBI’s position and theory about the April 2002 slant.

      The FBI’s experts do not support Decker’s claims — and have weighed in publicly. The former lead Amerithrax investigator doesn’t either.

      The only people who do are the people who participated in events leading up to Ivins committing suicide — about the time the FBI was agreeing to pay Hatfill $5.8 million.

      Amerithrax reeks of CYA — with the problem at its center is that some folks were relying on their “gut feeling” rather than validated science or factual evidence.

      NAS weighs in on April 2002 submission of slants by someone from Ivins’ lab
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 15, 2011

    • DXer said

      The FBI should provide a copy of the report of its handwriting expert with the FBIR submissions. (Also we would want to see Ms. Friend’s handwriting and check her civil deposition online.)

      Oh, wait. The FBI has failed to produce any of its forensic reports, including the handwriting analysis that found that Ivins probably did not write the anthrax letters.

      Although I’ve seen discrepant reports, judging from the labels, the February 2002 submissions appear to have been dated February 27, 2002, and not February 2, 2002.

      February 27 would still have made it the first entry in the repository.

      Somehow R. Scott Decker imagines eager compliance and promptness as evidence of guilt.

      Then he refers to foot-dragging by Ivins when the documents (see the email in this thread) actually evidence only by the lab receiving the samples — with no response to the emailed inquiry from Ivins’ technician about the slant and protocol to use.

      • DXer said

        Hey, Scott Decker. You realize, right, that it was Ivins who provided you copies of the labels, right? And you understand that he recognizes his own handwriting — and that of his technician, right?

        Did you appoint yourself a handwriting expert? Is that it? And not study the Ivins 302s to know where you got the labels from?

        And were you unaware of the delay by the FBI’s lab in responding to queries about the slant and protocols? Why did you suggest that the delay was caused by Ivins lab when it was caused by YOUR people. Ivins lab was clearly frustrated at the lack of the FBI’s cooperating in providing the requested information. Or did you not even read the May 2002 emails until you and your colleagues had John Peterson cull from them when they were produced to me.

      • DXer said

        Ivins’ technician, Ms. Friend, explained her role in the investigation. I am still looking for exemplars of her handwriting. But by April 2002, she would have been the one comparing submitted samples for the 4 morphs, along with Terry Abshire, who had helped John E. make a dried powder out of the Ames from Flask 1029.

        If Decker was looking for someone who had made a dried powder out of genetically matching Ames… it was a member of his unit that did.

        It is outrageous that after all this purported disclosure and the $38 book, he never thought to mention it.

        And that after he discusses Keim and Worsham’s scientific work at such length and detail in his book, he does not mention that his FBI experts think the genetic evidence in no way points to USAMRIID, let alone Ivins.

        Click to access Friend%20Deposition_Redacted.pdf

        Q. Did you have any further responsibilities
        with respect to the anthrax investigation?
        A. I was asked to prepare spores for the FBI as
        reference material to compare to the various powder
        samples that were found in each letter.


        A. Yes. So I did that. They asked me to grow
        spores on various types of culture media to use as
        reference stocks to compare to what was used in the

        Q. Anything else you did in furtherance of the
        A. Terri Abshire and myself, once the anthrax
        repository was generated — I mean, every lab in the
        United States or all over the world had to submit any
        anthrax, specifically Ames, to the repository. I would
        assist Terri in receiving the samples. We plated out
        every one of those samples to compare the morphological
        differences between those strains and the ones that were
        used in the powders, or in the attacks.
        Q. And when you say to compare, who actually
        did the comparison?
        A. Myself and Terri Abshire.

        We would actually submit those results. The
        FBI pretty much reviewed them, because at that point in
        time the reason why we went through the lie detector
        test was because we were supposed to be kind of separate
        from both entities, so at that point in time, we were
        doing work specifically with the FBI, so we weren’t
        allowed to discuss that with Dr. Ivins or Dr. Ezzell. I
        did not have discussions –discussions with either one
        of them on that work.

  3. DXer said

    Ivins submitted a sample with 4 morphs and then the scientists under Scott Decker’s direct supervision threw it out. While jumping over hoops to spin things as Ivins had done something suspicious, it was the scientists working for Scott Decker who had done something that is yet to be explained — even after Scott now has written an entire book on the suggestion and forensics.. In giving interviews to promote the sales of his book, is he going to tell us who threw it out?

    An FBI Agent was working with John Ezzell and Terry Abshire at the time in that lab. You can’t understand Amerithrax without knowing that the sample was wrongfully thrown out by the lab that was lab that actually made dried anthrax out of the Ames from Flask 1029. Yet the FBI has refused to identify who threw out the sample.

    Ivins was ordered by superior not to repeat the report that the powder closest to the mailed anthrax was made by DSD for DARPA

    Ivins email 6-28-05 discusses powder deemed closest to attack anthrax … “but I told ??? we didn’t make spore powder”
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 1, 2010

    See also
    GAO: Did Patricia Fellows Ever Find the Missing “National Security” Sample That Dr. Ivins Was (Apparently Falsely) Told Was From Iraq Before Moving On To SRI That Summer? Was There An Emailed Response(s) To Dr. Ivins’ Question? Her Deposition Should Not Be Shredded.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 14, 2011

    Was the sample that Dr. Ivins says he was told was from Iraq — but wasn’t — actually from the dried aerosol project that had been launched at USAMRIID unbeknownst to Dr. Ivins? Who brought it to him? Where did it come from?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 14, 2011

  4. DXer said

    In the subpoena to Bruce Ivins dated February 2002 — which was produced today — the instructions EXPRESSLY specify that an equivalent can be used. This may have been USG boilerplate intended to avoid problems arising from specifying a private vendor’s product. And perhaps someone then decided that there should be standardization. But don’t blame Dr. Ivins for submitting his sample on an “equivalent” — and then find some fault arising from the fact that the FBI’s expert threw out the slant (although other submissions on home-made slants were NOT thrown out). See FBIR inventory. Instead, find fault with anyone not abiding the protocol of preserving all potentially relevant evidence. There was no reason it could not have been preserved while requiring another sample be submitted. It’s no different that retaining drafts of a manuscript. Rather than evidencing a fault on the part of Dr. Ivins … which is all speculation .. without any speculation it evidences a fault on the part of the expert collecting samples for the FBI.

  5. DXer said

    The instructions expressly contemplated that an equivalent could be used. Yet the Amerithrax prosecutors and investigators made it seem like Dr. Ivins lab had done something wrong.

  6. DXer said

    Kurt Eichenwald in 500 DAYS, writes:

    “In February, he put together eight samples, including two from a batch he had developed 1029 — the source of the anthrax used in the attacks. The FBI had included instructions to the researchers for preparing the anthrax, and Ivins followed them precisely with six of the submissions. But he disregarded them for the two from RMR-1029, making them useless for any analysis. One of the researchers who received a subpoena was Bruce Ivins.

    “It was an attempt at a cover-up, it worked perfectly — at least for now.”

    Those few sentences are dense with numerous errors.

    First, the subpoena was to USAMRIID as an institution.

    Second, he submitted the initial key sample before the institution received the subpoena.

    Third, that sample was then inexcusably thrown out by the scientists working for the FBI who had made a dried powder out of Ames from Flask 1029.

    Fourth, his assistants prepared a number of the samples. Most samples were submitted in April.

    As authority, Kurt cites what he calls the Anthrax Panel Report, the Amerithrax Report, and the first Arredondo affidavit.

    He also cites Washington Field Amerithrax 3, “Title” Amerithrax: Major Case 184,” June 27, 2005.

    In studying the documentary evidence rather than parroting — even distorting — the conclusory allegations of a prosecutor or investigator, consider the actual relevant documentary evidence. We should turn as well to the sources cited.

    1. Does Bruce Ivins’ submitting a sample even before the FBI repository is up and running show a guilty conscious or an earnest eagerness to help?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 22, 2011

    2. The Instructions For Preparing and Shipping TSA Slants for B. Pathogens Laboratory Itself Submitted Home-made Slants In May 2002

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 9, 2012

    3. Who in Dr. Ezzell’s lab threw out Ivins’ initial February 2002 sample which contained the 4 morphs?

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 22, 2011

    4. Did the FBI Scientist Throw Out The Other Slants That Did Not Use Specified TSA Remel Slant Or Only Dr. Ivins’ February 2002 Submission From RMR 1029 From Which Its Scientists Had Made A Dried Powder? Who Threw It Out?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 7, 2012

    5. GAO Should Obtain From The FBI The Laboratory Chain-Of-Custody Form that has a space that identifies who destroyed the Feb. 02 sample submitted by Dr. Ivins and states the reasons it was not preserved (such as the others that were preserved using different slants)

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 7, 2012

    6. Terry Abshire in a document produced t under FOIA explains that the genetically matching sample she had in her lab was not submitted in the initial set ; instead, wasn’t her lab 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?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 2, 2011

    7. Most of the Ames Samples In Ivins’ Lab Were Made By Dr. Ivins’ Assistant and not Ivins.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 7, 2012

    8. discussing one of the April 2002 samples and who prepared it

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 14, 2011

    9. The GAO should obtain colored copies of the April 2002 sample submission (that Ivins says was submitted by his assistant) to see the color ink that was used.

    10. Whose initials appear in connection with the April 2002 FBIR Submission by Ivins’ lab. They are not Bruce’s initials.

    11. Meglumine and Diatrizoate were both detected in the USAMRIID RMR 1029 sample — but Meglumine and Diatrizoate were NOT detected in the 2001 letter spore evidence
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 10, 2011

    12. Even as of May, instructions on preparing slants was slow in coming.
    who wrote this email? who submitted the slants to the FBI?

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 5, 2010

  7. BugMaster said

    Also note that by following the instructions to incubate the slants for 12 to 18 hours after transfer to assure viability, what is actually being submitted is an actively-growing SUBCULTURE of the original material requested.

    Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!!!!

  8. As we know the slants Ivins prepared worked, because a copy were kept and tested at another location. That is experimental proof that the Ivins slants were equivalent in fact.

    That is admissible evidence in court that the Ivins’ slants were equivalent. It was done by a DOJ controlled lab against interest of the DOJ party to prove the slants were equivalent and did comply with the protocol.

    • DXer said

      The slants he prepared were TSA slants — just as the slants prepared in May 2002 by Special Pathogens were TSA slants. See also Dr. Ezzell’s description of the slants in interviews; he is available online. Laboratory made slants are the equivalent and in fact the norm in many large laboratories. Source: Bugmaster. It is when a highly motivated attorney went to spin things in July 2008 that there came to be confusion on the issue. It is Alice-in-Wonderland approach to take the destruction of evidence and then use it affirmatively against the person of interest. The ones throwing it out had made a dried powder out of RMR-1029 and kept that secret from the public for 8 years — and had not themselves submitted a sample.

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