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

* FBI is still withholding from the public and GAO the notebook pages relating to the research involving the virulent Ames spores provided in 1998 to the DARPA researchers studying this decontamination agent described in this August 2012 patent; Flask 1029 distributions to researchers doing work at USAMRIID were not recorded on the Flask 1029 inventory where it was done at USAMRIID.

Posted by DXer on September 5, 2012




11 Responses to “* FBI is still withholding from the public and GAO the notebook pages relating to the research involving the virulent Ames spores provided in 1998 to the DARPA researchers studying this decontamination agent described in this August 2012 patent; Flask 1029 distributions to researchers doing work at USAMRIID were not recorded on the Flask 1029 inventory where it was done at USAMRIID.”

  1. DXer said

    July 30, 2018
    10 Years of emptywheel: Jim’s Dimestore


    Sandia National Laboratories image of attack spore. In the upper frame, silicon, in green, is found exclusively on the spore coat and not on the exosporium (outer pink border).

    Perhaps my favorite topic over the years has been a technical analysis of the evidence presented by the FBI in its Amerithrax investigation. It is absolutely clear from this analysis of the anthrax attacks of 2001 that the FBI failed to demonstrate how Bruce Ivins could have carried out the attacks on his own. This post goes deep into the technical weeds of how the spores in the attack material were treated so that they would disperse easily and seem to float on air. The bottom line is that high amounts of silicon are found inside these spores. The silicon could not have gotten there naturally, and it took very sophisticated chemistry to get it there and treat it to make sure it stayed. Ivins had neither the expertise nor the equipment to achieve this highly advanced bioweaponization. Earlier work I did in this series showed that Ivins also could not have grown the anthrax used in the attacks. My favorite candidate for where it was produced is an isolated lab built by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency on what is now called the Nevada National Security Site (formerly the Nevada Test Site) that Judy Miller described on September 4, 2001. That article by Miller has always stood out to me as the ultimate limited hangout presented by DoD before the fact, where we see a facility of the perfect size for producing the amount of material used in the anthrax attacks. Those attacks occurred just a short time after the article was published. Miller’s assurance in the article that the site only was used for production of harmless bacteria sharing some characteristics with anthrax just never smelled right to me.

  2. DXer said

    The subpoena only sought information of live anthrax shipped since 1996. If shipped before 1996, it would not be caught. If ostensibly inactivated (but actually live), it would not be included.

    Even with those massive shortcomings in the data collection, 27 laboratories of 92 still had not responded when Decker too over.

    At page 90, Scott Decker says he reviewed patent records.

    Although he does not discuss the issue, in the one peer reviewed article provided under FOIA by the FBI, University of Michigan researchers thank Bruce Ivins for supplying the virulent Ames.

    Yet no sample of virulent Ames was submitted in response to the subpoena to the FBI.

    I once asked James Baker then of the University of Michigan about that. He mistakenly reasoned that they would not have it because anthrax was a B3 pathogen.

    He apparently did not know that anthrax in its liquid form prior to Fall 2001 was a B2 pathogen.

    The Regents of University of Michigan know a lot more about Amerithrax than you may realize.

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

  3. DXer said

    By Dina Temple-Raston October 9 at 11:05 AM

    Dina Temple-Raston is NPR’s counterterrorism correspondent and the author of four books. She recently finished a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, where she studied big data and the intelligence community.
    The secretive government agency where ‘anything imagined can be tried’


    The agency has long had a habit of eschewing political correctness or shrugging off what people might say or think so it can put science first. It has never worried about how unconventional research might look on the front page of, say, The Washington Post. That attitude has led to notable successes but also some troubling outcomes.

    Annie Jacobsen explores that tension in her fascinating new book, “The Pentagon’s Brain,” which she presents as the first comprehensive history of an agency many Americans may not even know exists. Jacobsen tracks DARPA’s beginnings as an informal gathering of scientists struggling with problems of the Cold War and allows readers to see its transformation into what it is today: a high-tech incubator that introduces the newest technologies, for good or ill, to soldiers on the battlefield.

    Wheeler’s report is just one of the many sources Jacobsen calls upon to uncover details about DARPA’s secretive government projects; she has some experience writing about these kinds of covert programs. Her previous book,“Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America,” used newly declassified documents to reveal details about a U.S. effort to employ Nazi scientists as armament specialists during the Cold War. DARPA, she makes clear, was created in a similar atmosphere — a feverish post-Sputnik era when investing in arms and technology seemed like the only way to stay ahead of the Soviets.

    Jacobsen illustrates DARPA’s Zelig-like quality of appearing center stage at opportune moments when it is least expected. Case in point: the 2001 anthrax scare that shuttered the Senate’s Hart Building. “DARPA was asked to provide science advisors to help,” Jacobsen writes.

    To produce the book, Jacobsen conducted dozens of interviews with former DARPA members. She clearly has plenty of material to work with, but sometimes it is difficult to know how she feels about it all — she seems conflicted, and that uneasiness is apparent to the reader. An organization that works under the credo “anything imagined can be tried” clearly makes Jacobsen uncomfortable, and she suggests time and again that while the agency’s descent to the dark side isn’t inevitable, it is something to keep watch over.

  4. DXer said

    On September 10, 2004, the FBI faxed the message to USAMRIID that a laboratory technician participated in a 1999 “Biological Warfare Decontamination Efficacy Study.” GAO, it’s really important that you make the FBI give you an unredacted copy of that fax.

    On September 8, 2004, the FBI had been advised by USAMRIID that the laboratory’s notebooks, notes and other documents could not be located.

    Relatedly, on information and belief, the FBI/DOJ has culled an email by Dr. Ivins on September 2, 2004 related to the FBI’s August 2004 request for information. The email as I recall was 8:43 a.m. on September 2, 2004.

  5. DXer said

    For example, consider that a May 13, 1998 withdrawal from Flask 1029 of an unknown amount of virulent Ames was not recorded on the inventory.

  6. DXer said

    Government study finds security risks at US bio labs still high
    Published March 25, 2013

    Read more:
    Published March 25, 2013

    WASHINGTON – Three years after a federal agency warned that the country was at risk due to sloppy standards at its labs that handle bioterror germs, such as anthrax, little has been done to fix the problem.
    A 56-page report released Monday by the Government Accountability Office says federal officials have failed to develop adequate standards for lab design, operation and construction.

    Another government report released late last year by the USDA inspector general found several violations of regulations in bioterror labs went undetected for years. And two years before that, laboratories at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention repeatedly were called out for failing to properly secure bioterror agents, like anthrax, in private government audits.


    Concerns surrounding a bioterror attack took hold of the country after the October 2001 anthrax attacks. The powdery substance was mailed to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and members of the news media in New York and Florida. By November 2001, five people were dead and 17 others sickened.
    Ten years after the attacks, a report from the National Research Council said the source of the anthrax could not be verified. That conclusion contradicted some of the evidence from the FBI at the time that supported the conclusion that it came from Fort Detrick, a U.S. Army installation outside Frederick, Md. In all, the investigation into the anthrax case spanned six continents, involved more than 10,000 witnesses, 80 searches and 26,000 email subpoenas and used 29 government, university and commercial laboratories for scientific analyses.

  7. DXer said

    Not only did the University of Michigan fail to provide any documents relating to the work with Ames done by the University of Michigan researchers, but USAMRIID also failed to provide any documents. The FBI, for its part, failed to provide the relevant lab notebook pages relating to the research. The GAO should make obtaining additional documents pertinent to analysis the priority.

  8. DXer said

    Dr. Ivins supplied Ames and Vollum 1B — and LSU provided four characterized strains. The lethality of Ames was widely known and discussed at the conferences infiltrated by the scientist, Rauf Ahmad. The conferences were sponsored by Porton Down. Ames — the “gold standard” — was extensively discussed by various presenters.

    It had long since been reported by Dr. Ivins’ colleague that non-toxigenic isolates which carried the Ames pX02 were more virulent for CBA/J mice than those with Vollum 1B pX02, and the differences were mouse strain-dependent. The pX01- pX02+ strains multiplied and achieved high concentrations systemically.

    Microb Pathog. 1993 May;14(5):381-8.
    Non-toxigenic derivatives of the Ames strain of Bacillus anthracis are fully virulent for mice: role of plasmid pX02 and chromosome in strain-dependent virulence.

    Welkos SL, Vietri NJ, Gibbs PH.

    Division of Bacteriology, United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Frederick, MD 21702-5011.


    The toxin-encoding plasmid pX01 and capsule-associated plasmid pX02 are required for full virulence of Bacillus anthracis in some animals. However, the non-toxigenic pX01-cured derivatives of certain anthrax strains are not completely attenuated for mice, and their virulence is strain-dependent. The strain-related differences were partially associated with plasmid pX02 as demonstrated by pX02 transductants of the attenuated vaccine strain UM23-1 cured of pX01. To determine the virulence of non-toxigenic variants of virulent strains, we isolated pX01- derivatives of the Vollum 1B strain and the more ‘vaccine-resistant’ Ames strain which carried pX02 from either Ames or Vollum 1B. The 50% lethal dose (LD50) values of the derivatives of both strains which carried the Ames pX02 were not significantly different from the LD50s of the pX01+ pX02+ strains (and were lower than those of pX01+ pX02- strains). pX02+ derivatives of strain UM23-1 were less virulent than the comparable Ames and Vollum 1B strain derivatives, emphasizing a role for chromosomal loci in the virulence of the latter two strains. Non-toxigenic isolates which carried the Ames pX02 were more virulent for CBA/J mice than those with Vollum 1B pX02, and the differences were mouse strain-dependent. The pX01- pX02+ strains multiplied and achieved high concentrations systemically.

  9. DXer said

    Flask 1029 was created in late 1997. The documentary evidence shows, as Dr. Ivins has explained, that transfers done at USAMRIID were not recorded. Recording such transfers, as Dr. Ivins explained, was NOT standard practice.

    Moreover, his assistants say that they were regularly making new Ames that they thought was intended to replenish Flask 1029. That Ames could not be located.

  10. DXer said

    The FBI took the only copy of key lab notebooks and did not return them to USAMRIID.

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