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

* Lawmakers, scientists question FBI’s investigation, conclusion in 2001 anthrax attacks

Posted by DXer on August 15, 2013

The FBI has no case against this man ... but meanwhile he is dead and the real perpetrators are still out there.

The FBI has no case against this man … but meanwhile he is dead and the real perpetrators are still out there.

Published 14 August 2013 … read the entire article at …

Here are some excerpts from the article …

  • Twelve years after the fall 2001 anthrax attacks, and six years after the 2007 FBI’s determination that Bruce Ivins, a top government anthrax researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), was the perpetrator of the attacks (Ivins died in 2008 of apparent suicide), lawmakers and USAMRIID scientists insist that the FBI’s conclusions are not supported by scientific evidence – indeed, that some basic scientific facts make the Bureau’s conclusions untenable.

  • After years of requests from lawmakers, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has opened an investigation into the scientific methods used by the FBI to determine that researcher Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator of a 2001 series of anthrax attacks that killed five and injured seventeen.

  • According to the Frederick News-Post, U.S. Representative Rush Holt (D-New Jersey), whose district was the mailing point for the anthrax-laden letters, has been requesting the GAO to investigate the scientific methodology used by the FBI in concluding, since 2007, that Ivins was the perpetrator.

  • Bolstering the efforts of Holt and other lawmakers is a 2011 report from a National Research Council (NRC) committee which determined that the conclusions reached by the FBI were not supported by science. At USAMRIID, three of Ivins’s coworkers raised issues that were never addressed by the FBI investigation.

  • Patrick Eddington, a senior policy advisor to Holt, said, “There needs to be an exhaustive explanation of how the FBI handles cases like this.” Pointing to several other Bureau blunders, Eddington added that the FBI is “still out of their depth when it comes to dealing with cases with this kind of science.”

  • For its part, the FBI has said that it relied on the totality of its investigation, not just on the science, that lead it to conclude Bruce Ivins’s culpability in the anthrax mailings.



None of the above, nor anything else in the article, is actually new, and the GAO is way behind earlier estimates of when their report would be ready. However, it is refreshing to see some attention being given to what, in my opinion, is the failed FBI investigation of a truly significant matter of national security.

It wasn’t Ivins,

and whoever did it is still out there.


According to its web site …

The Homeland Security News Wire is the homeland security industry’s largest daily news publication online, providing well regarded, in-depth analysis and insight, in addition to coverage of the day’s top breaking stories.  For more about the Homeland Security News Wire, see …


51 Responses to “* Lawmakers, scientists question FBI’s investigation, conclusion in 2001 anthrax attacks”

  1. DXer said

    Wow. I believe Dr. Majidi is breathtakingly wrong on a simple scientific issue totally dispositive of his analysis.

    He writes in his new book:

    “Forensic data using isotopic analysis and age dating revealed that the anthrax spores were contemporary, eliminating the possibility that a sample was stolen and prepared in the past by a perpetrator waiting for the right opportunity to execute an attack.” He argues that the anthrax needed to have been grown in September and October 2001. This scientific error is so basic and fundamental that, without more, it explains why Amerithrax was totally botched on his watch.

    Let’s go find the scientific report to see if I am right in arguing to the contrary: The isotope analysis could determine that it was grown within the last couple years.

    Grown. Note that it doesn’t even relate to when a smidgeon might have been obtained. Obtaining it in 1998 or 1999, growing it in the summer of 2001, is fully consistent with the isotope analysis. This issue was reviewed by NAS. So let’s go to their report which I believe is in their appendix.

    But unlike most of his book so far, this is the first hard core science thing he’s said and it is totally wrong. Given the extensive section in the NAS report on isotope dating (I believe it is an appendix), let’s see who is right on the issue. Like I said, my sense is that this scientific error, without more, explains why Amerithrax was totally botched.

    You don’t even need to get to the game of hide-the-ball that Ken and Rachel played with the rabbit documents.

    • DXer said

      From the New York Times:
      Scientists have determined that the anthrax powder sent through the mail last fall was fresh, made no more than two years before it was sent, senior government officials said. The new finding has concerned investigators, who say it indicates that whoever sent the anthrax could make more and strike again.

      Officials said the F.B.I. determined that the anthrax was fresh by radiocarbon dating, a standard means of estimating the age of biological samples. It measures how much radioactive carbon a living thing has lost since it died or, in the case of anthrax spores, since they went into suspended animation.

      Comment: This is what the FBI’s finding was. And so why is Dr. Majidi spinning it to have been September and October 2001 based on that dating analysis? (And it relates to when the anthrax was grown). This error — combined with the seriously wrong hide-the-ball played the rabbit documents — without more — explains the botching of Amerithrax.

      The reliance on Dr. Ivins first counselor, who says she was controlled by an alien who gave her instructions each night, was just frosting on the cake.

    • DXer said

      Dr. Vahid Majidi, who accused Bruce Ivins of murder, says:

      “It is relevant to note that there is no absolute evidence that directly connects Bruce Ivins to the mailings.”

      Oh, right. We understand that. And now we understand why you were so confused. It related significantly to this issue of isotope analysis and age dating.

      We’ll forgive you — to err is human — so long as you publicly encourage the FBI to comply with FOIA and more fully disclose the forensic reports that I have pointed out were withheld.

    • DXer said

      Dr. Majidi on motive says:

      “Why would anyone methodically plan to kill strangers with a biological weapon? There are numerous hypotheses and none can be proven…”

  2. DXer said

    In his new manuscript, Dr. Majidi writes:

    “public expectation is well beyond what forensic science can often deliver. Another issue is that most forensic techniques used in TV dramas do not provide the level of certainty implied in the show. Thus in a real world, it is very unlikely that the forensic evidence alone can exclusively result in identification of the responsible party.”

  3. DXer said

    Trump is thinking of buying Plum Island, a famous anthrax research center, to make a golf course. I’ve been drawn to an undeveloped island of a much smaller scale and hope to close on a parcel there soon.

    My brother-in-weeds recently made a couch for Mr. Trump’s brother out of his old pick-up. (He was never going to part with his truck and so his wife shrewdly thought to have it re-fashioned into a couch for the rec room).

    I never cease being amazed by people talented at practical things — people who can make something from nothing.

    Trump’s Plum Island Golf Course Development: Welcome to Anthrax Acres
    By Steve Fagin

  4. DXer said

    I enjoyed hearing Hillary Clinton last night at Hamilton and hope to catch her again at Colgate on October 25.

    She used a phrase that describes the “Ivins Theory” in Amerithrax: Rachel Lieber and Ed Montooth, IMO, were operating in an “evidence-free zone.”

    ayman, anthrax and al qaeda

    Hillary Clinton excerpts: World watches when American partisanship overrides citizenship

  5. DXer said

    Who did the late Dr. Jemski think was responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings.

    The Frederick News-Post (Maryland)

    Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News

    September 29, 2013 Sunday

    The ‘man behind the Eight Ball’ loved sports, beer

    BY: Courtney Mabeus, The Frederick News-Post, Md.

    Sept. 29–Tom Jemski doesn’t remember how his dad wound up being called the “man behind the Eight Ball.”

    For years, that’s how Joseph Jemski was known.

    A microbiologist, Joe Jemski began working at Fort Detrick in 1952, performing research on agents including aerosolizing anthrax as part of the Army’s biological weapons program. He became chief of the test sphere program, which included the infamous “Eight Ball,” a 40-foot-tall steel chamber that the Army used to aerosolize biological agents during the Cold War.

    Whether he gave himself the moniker or if someone else did is one for the history books, but Joe Jemski was proud of the work he did serving his country.

    Joseph Jemski died May 5. He was 93.

    He “was a patriot,” said Tom Jemski, 53. “That’s why he did it.”

    Born March 19, 1920, in Blackstone, Mass., Joe Jemski grew up in a tenement on the hardscrabble streets of New York City’s Lower East Side.

    “He was a tough guy,” said Tom Jemski, a photographer for the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. “He had a very, very tough beginning in life but he was a kind person. But he was a tough person.”

    Teachers didn’t think the elder Jemski was bright, but it turned out the young man who would excel in science was bored in classes. He wound up at New York’s prestigious Stuyvesant High School and attended Fordham University, graduating in 1942. He married his wife, Mary Helen, in 1943, and two weeks later shipped out to north Africa with the Army during World War II. Mary Helen died in 2009.

    Joe Jemski ran the lab for the Army’s 23rd General Hospital during stints in places including Morocco, Sicily, Naples and France. He was part of a loose affiliation of soldiers that would play baseball, a lifelong love for Jemski, in their free time. Once the other men discovered Paris, the games ended because there was too much other fun to be had — something that Jemski lamented, Tom Jemski said.

    Edgar “Bud” Larson worked with Joe Jemski at the Eight-Ball and later at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases. Larson remembered Joe Jemski as an outstanding softball player. The two men each served as state president for the American Society of Microbiology.

    “He was a hardened competitor in all things athletic,” Larson said.

    After he returned from the war, Joe Jemski earned a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1952. When President Richard Nixon ended the biological warfare program at Detrick in 1969, Joe Jemski stayed to help clean up the remnants, including the Eight-Ball, before going to work for USAMRIID. His son remembers going there for a visit and smelling the cleansers as a young boy.

    Joe Jemski couldn’t talk about his work at home, but Tom Jemski remembers seeing photos of him with military brass.

    “It was always kind of mysterious what he was doing,” Tom Jemski said.

    Joe Jemski largely put his work behind him after he retired from USAMRIID in 1983, his son said, though he gained a renewed interest and did several newspaper and television interviews after the 2002 Amerithrax attacks. His yard in Broadview Acres looked like a “putting green” even though he didn’t golf, his son said. He also loved to play racquetball and handball, was an avid bowler and a fisherman. He also collected vintage pre-Prohibition-era Maryland memorabilia and bottles, his son said.

    “He loved beer,” Tom Jemski said. His father had one preference: “Oh boy, cold. Ice cold.”

    • DXer said

      Specifically, did the long retired Dr. Joseph Jemski have any insights on the discussion of the silicon signature in the mailed anthrax?

      October 16, 2003

      Veterans of bioweapons program urged to share secrets

      By David Dishneau
      Associated Press

      FREDERICK, Md. — They are veterans of biological weapons research dating back to World War II and the Cold War. They have done their duty — and they have kept their secrets.
      But that’s a problem, says retired Army Gen. John S. Parker.

      Parker is former commander of Fort Detrick, home of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, where the military began conducting biological warfare research in 1943.

      Parker and others hope to interview the old-timers to preserve their knowledge. “There is more to the story than has been written,” Parker said at a Sept. 20 reunion of workers from the bioweapons program. “It’s important to know what’s been done and the thoughts behind it.”

      Parker would like to produce a public document to help guide the nation’s response to the threat of biological weapons. It could broaden the foundation for biodefense research and reduce duplication of work done decades ago, Parker said.

      For example, Parker said, despite the declassification in 1999 of documents describing experiments with simulated anthrax and other organisms, questions remain about the most effective ways of disseminating biological agents. Even anecdotal information could be useful, Parker said.

      The Detrick researchers were barred from discussing their work publicly at the time, and many disagreed with President Nixon’s 1969 ban on offensive biological weapons. The labs at Fort Detrick are now used to develop defenses to biological agents.

      Public awareness of Fort Detrick and its history has increased since the still-unsolved anthrax mailings that killed five people and sickened 17 others in the fall of 2001.

      On Oct. 5, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., hosted a 60th anniversary event honoring the work done by Fort Detrick researchers and volunteers. Their research contributed to the development of vaccines for anthrax, botulism and several other diseases; the invention of equipment for studying airborne transmission of respiratory diseases; and the discovery of new techniques for sterilizing laboratories.

      “They have made major contributions to defense, not just to defense against biological weapons, but major contributions to the medical area. There are vaccines that just would not have been developed without them,” Bartlett said.

      Some bioweapons researchers are eager to share their memories.

      “I’m proud of what we did,” said Joseph V. Jemski, a retired microbiologist who worked at Detrick from 1952 to 1983 and still lives in Frederick.

      Under the offensive weapons program, Jemski exposed laboratory animals to aerosolized anthrax spores to study the death rates.

      Some of those who worked at Fort Detrick contacted the FBI after the 2001 anthrax attacks, offering their insights. But others remain hesitant to come forward, still smarting from what they consider a distorted public perception of their work.

      “I have never read in the open media any articles that really showed the good things that came out of biological warfare research,” said Alan M. Miller, 75, also a retired microbiologist. “They used to use the term ‘dirty warfare’ in relation to biological warfare. Well, what’s a clean war?”

      Miller, of Frederick, refuses to disclose much about his work at Detrick. “I was involved in a project that was based on the principle that to keep a man in fighting stead, it took quite a few people behind him. If you could make a man sick, and keep him sick for one, two, three weeks, that would tie up quite a few other people.”

      Contributing to public concerns about the military research is the case involving Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, a former Detrick researcher whom the FBI labeled a “person of interest” in connection with the 2001 anthrax attacks. Hatfill sued the federal government, claiming a malicious campaign was launched against him — including 24-hour surveillance — because the FBI was unable to solve the case. Federal officials have said Hatfill is not a suspect and that they have no evidence directly linking him to the attacks.

      But despite the sometimes negative press surrounding their work, reunion participants — whether they were scientists, engineers, building managers, or maintenance workers — invariably said they were proud to have worked on a Cold War program that their government said was needed, although the weapons were never used.

      “To me, it was a duty,” said Herbert Bloom, 85, of Frederick. “I realized that what we were doing was important.”

      But the opportunity to mine the memories of these aging veterans will not last forever. A reunion in 2001 attracted 290 participants; the reunion this year was down to just 230, including workers’ spouses.

      “The knowledge you hold, you hold it in a very select way. A lot of you are the only ones who know what you know,” Parker told them. “We are making sure we can reach out to you, to know what you did, what you know, for the future defense of the United States.”

  6. DXer said

    Forensic Science International

    Volume 226, Issues 1–3, 10 March 2013, Pages 118–124

    Fusion of laboratory and textual data for investigative bioforensics
    Bobbie-Jo Webb-Robertsona, Corresponding author contact information, E-mail the corresponding author,
    Courtney Corleyb,
    Lee Ann McCue a,
    Karen Wahl c,
    Helen Kreuzer c
    a Computational Biology & Bioinformatics, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 902 Battelle Blvd, Richland, WA, 99352 USA
    b Knowledge Discovery and Informatics, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 902 Battelle Blvd, Richland, WA, 99352 USA
    c Chemical & Biological Signature Science, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, 902 Battelle Blvd, Richland, WA, 99352 USA



    Chemical and biological forensic programs focus on the identification of a threat and acquisition of laboratory measurements to determine how a threat agent may have been produced. However, to generate investigative leads, it might also be useful to identify institutions where the same agent has been produced by the same or a very similar process, since the producer of the agent may have learned methods at a university or similar institution. We have developed a Bayesian network framework that fuses hard and soft data sources to assign probability to production practices. It combines the results of laboratory measurements with an automatic text reader to scan scientific literature and rank institutions that had published papers on the agent of interest in order of the probability that the institution has the capability to generate the sample of interest based on laboratory data. We demonstrate the Bayesian network on an example case from microbial forensics, predicting the methods used to produce Bacillus anthracis spores based on mass spectrometric measurements and identifying institutions that have a history of growing Bacillus spores using the same or highly similar methods. We illustrate that the network model can assign a higher posterior probability than expected by random chance to appropriate institutions when trained using only a small set of manually analyzed documents. This is the first example of an automated methodology to integrate experimental and textual data for the purpose of investigative forensics.

  7. DXer said

    Title:Strengthening Forensic Science in the U. S.: A Path Forward.. Authors:Metzgar, Carl.Source:Professional Safety; Jan2012, Vol. 57 Issue 1, p32-33, 2p

    Abstract: The article presents a review of the book “Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States.: A Path Forward,” the article “Daubert and Forensic Science: The Pitfalls of Law Enforcement Control of Scientific Research,” by Paul C. Giannelli from the 2011 “The University of Illinois Law Review,” and the article “The Need for a Research Culture in the Forensic Sciences,” by Jennifer L. Mnookin, Simon A. Cole, Itiel E. Dror, and colleagues that was published in the 2011 “UCLA Law Review.”.

    • DXer said

      It may have been former FBI agent Bradley Garrett who commented that managers in Amerithrax were inexperienced and emphasizing unreliable techniques.

      One that was widely criticized were the anthrax smelling dogs. But as part of the use of Lucy and Tinkerbelle was the scent transfer unit, developed, I believe, in Upstate New York.

      You can see the unit in operation in this video. In the decade since, what independent studies have been done to validate the reliability of the scent transfer unit?

      On the use of dogs to smell powderized anthrax? (It should have been known not to meet the Daubert standard).

      In this video, the most important evidence relating to a fictional bank robbery, wouldn’t the most important evidence be a camera? Shouldn’t banks have better cameras? With great zoom and analytic capability?

      Knowing the evidence to emphasize is perhaps the most important aspect of all in an investigation. Here, the missing Apple laptop from the lab was hugely important to locate. Could its use — to the extent of the surfing on the internet — have been tracked by some server?

  8. DXer said

    New York Man Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison for Chemical Weapon Attack at Albany Medical Center

    U.S. Attorney’s Office
    September 19, 2013


    Although the press release does not detail the investigation by the FBI Agents in Albany, this press release illustrates what motive and probative forensic evidence looks like.

    Notice the lack of innuendo piled upon inference such as characterized the FBI’s “Ivins Theory.”

    Notice the lack of speculation piled upon mistaken factual claim.

    Notice the lack of conflict of interest.

    Congratulations are doubly in order given the important work done at hospitals.

    • DXer said


      Did the FBI in September 2001 create a collection of videos from ATMs and surveillance cameras from the area of the mailing? Perhaps not given the actual mailbox was not known. (But they should have). What is the document retention policy regarding such video? Might there have been some cameras where the film was just kept even into the next year? Even to this day? Did they have red light cameras back then that took pictures of vehicles that ran redlights?

      Notice the importance of computer forensics in the Albany mercury case. Did Dr. Ivins have the hard drive of a home computer from 2001? If so, forensics could create a record of what he viewed and accessed throughout September 2001 and October 2001.

      A surveillance video shot on the last of the four dates showed Kimber spreading mercury in the cafeteria, including on food ingested by at least one person, according to authorities.

      On March 29, 2012, a search law-enforcement officers found Kimber to be in possession of two canisters of mercury — one stored in his house at 8 Lena Lane in the Ulster hamlet of Ruby, and the other stored in his car. Also, an FBI search of his computer showed he had visited websites from which more mercury could be bought, authorities said.

      Authorities said their search also uncovered 21 guns, ammunition and a copy of “The Turner Diaries,” a novel that, on its cover page, states the book contains “racist propaganda.” Officials also said a swastika was emblazoned on a wall in Kimber’s home. …

      The Poughkeepsie Journal has reported Kimber worked as a pharmacist at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie from 2000 to 2010.

  9. DXer said

    TIME SHIFT – Deadly anthrax scare hits city

    Townsville Sun (Australia) – Wednesday, September 4, 2013

    Author: Ian Frazer

    “RELAX”, the Townsville Bulletin advised readers the day after emergency crews doused 69 people feared to have opened letters containing anthrax .

    Bioterrorism panic spread around the world in October 2001, a month on from the brutal hijackings that killed 3000 people in the US. Five people in the US died and 17 became ill between September 25-October 21, after touching the deadly bacteria in letters that were posted to media organisations and two Democratic senators.

    Office workers in Townsville and the Burdekin phoned police on October 15 after finding white powder inside a batch of official-looking letters. Emergency crews set up portable showers to douse some of the workers and sent others to Townsville Hospital for decontamination.

    The 69 workers came from the Department of State Development on The Strand, Blue Care in the CBD, Representative Business Service in Garbutt and the Australian College of Tropical Agriculture in Clare.

    Eight police officers were also taken to hospital after coming into contact with suspected victims. But that night, police and health authorities announced the powder had been tested and it posed no danger. The letters, from Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald’s office, contained a non-toxic residue from envelope embossing.

    In an editorial on October 16, The Bulletin described Australia as an unlikely target for terrorists, having at that stage little direct influence on events in Afghanistan or the Middle East.

    “North Queenslanders should allow themselves to relax . . . free after yesterday’s scare to contemplate just how well-off we are in what does remain the lucky country,” the paper said.

    Yet anxiety lingered in the North. The same day, a passenger flying from Townsville to Mackay found white powder on a Danish pastry and demanded testing for anthrax . Firefighters were called to examine black powder found at the Townsville Mail Exchange at West End on October 18.

    Police rushed to Townsville Airport on October 25 after an unknown substance was found on a computer game near the cafeteria. The Bulletin reported the white powder had been taken to the hospital for analysis and had proved to be sugar.

    Meanwhile, Lavarack Barracks and the RAAF Base Garbutt were on amber alert. Security guards searched vehicles entering both establishments and screened all civilians seeking entry. Then the collapse of Ansett on September 14, with the cancellation of flights and likely loss of 50 jobs in Townsville added to the angst.

    Two months later, against this background voters re-elected the Howard Coalition Government, returning Herbert MP Peter Lindsay with an increased majority.

    The Bulletin observed immediately after the September 11 carnage that every Australian was in shock.

    “Most Australians will support the Commonwealth Government offer, made through Prime Minister John Howard in the US yesterday, of military support for any retaliation against those responsible for the terror attacks,” the newspaper said.

    “But no Australian should resort to hate crimes, to lashing out at anyone simply because of their ethnic background.”

    In 2008, Bruce Ivins , 62, a US bio-defence researcher, died of a drug overdose while the FBI tried to build a case against him for sending the anthrax letters.

    Mr Ivins ‘ death came a month after the US Government paid $6 million compensation to one of his colleagues, Steve Hatfil, whose career was destroyed in 2002 when the FBI wrongly targeted him as the prime suspect for the deadly letters.

  10. DXer said

    In the online Frederick News Post poll, rounding to the nearest whole number,

    62% think that Bruce Ivins was not responsible.

    19% think he was.

    19% were not sure.

  11. DXer said

    Tech Visionary Focuses Now On Biological Weapons Threat


    Isn’t this the path that led to Dr. Ayman’s anthrax program?

    Dr. Ayman says he didn’t think to turn to anthrax until the media kept telling him how easy it was.

    The best defense led by the Fifth Estate is to follow the money and avoid profit being made in the innovation of new ways to kill people.

    The greatest threat to national security is faulty counterintelligence analysis that leads to the misattribution of past WMD events.

  12. DXer said

    Neither snow nor rain nor threat of anthrax: U.S. Postal workers part of little-known program to distribute medicine in event of bio-attack
    Postal workers – particularly those in rural areas – are crucial in the delivery of medicine in the event of a bioterrorism attack. National Rural Letter Carrers’ Association President Jeanette P. Dwyer tells The News why.


    WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2013, 6:25 PM


    How can one attempt to measure accurately the percentage of no-shows in the event of a mass attack?

    I have a very civic-minded carrier. But I also know that he is very committed to his family. In the event of a mass attack, and he saw many people jumping in their cars and leaving to go stay with relatives and unaffected areas, would he leave his family home? Would he have his wife drive the children to relatives? I have no idea. Not everyone is Brad Pitt in World War Z — particularly when it is understood that someone else could just as readily deliver the medicine.

    I hope there is supplemental planning relating to distribution to passing cars on major routes leading out of a city.

    For example, in New York State, Thruway stops permit easy on-and-off — and have large parking lots that would permit a queue.

    And what if the agent was sarin gas?

  13. DXer said

    What is the status of Ali Al-Timimi’s appeal?

    I wrote this in 2007 about the NSA’s secret wiretapping of Al-Timimi.

    Al-Timimi and NSA Wiretapping: What The Government Is Not Telling Us
    Ross E. Getman
    Tue 18 Dec 2007


    In 2006, federal prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia, where al-Timimi was convicted, consented to the decision by the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia, to send the case back to U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema for further hearings. The district court may determine whether NSA-gathered evidence was used against al-Timimi without the court having been told. She also could press the government to reveal whether it withheld evidence gathered by the NSA that could have helped al-Timimi’s defense.

    Sometime during 2002, authorities learned that Ali Al-Timimi was in contact with Bin Laden’s mentor, dissident Saudi sheik al-Hawali. The detention of al-Hawali had been the express subject of Bin Laden’s 1996 declaration of war and the claim of responsibility for the 1998 embassy bombings. Rather than pointing to the intercepts of conversations between al-Hawali and al-Timimi, however, defense counsel Turley publicly has pointed to conversations that the NSA intercepted involving a US charity official, Suliman al-Buthe, who Turley says was a central figure in al-Timimi’s trial. Professor Turley has argued that it is a First Amendment right to celebrate the hoped-for destruction of Western Civilization as Ali did in conversations with al-Buthe. Well, at the same time, it is a First Amendment right to tell you that it is a very bad idea for the US government to grant a high security clearance and access to anthrax weaponization know-how to someone such as Al-Timimi who hopes that the US is destroyed. If that does happen, it is a very bad idea to conceal the fact from the public as is being done here by the government.


    Al-Timimi had a high security clearance for mathematical support work for the Navy, and at one point had received a letter of commendation from the White House. He even had briefly worked for White House chief of staff Andrew Card while Mr. Card was at the Department of Transportation. By 2001, Al-Timimi was a microbiologist at the George Mason University in a building, Discovery Hall, that contained the Center for Biodefense funded by the US government. The Defense Advance Research Projects Agency funded the program to the tune of about $13 million in 2001 and the adjoining years. By early 2002, Ali Al-Timimi had an office just 10-15 feet from the office of famed Russian bioweaponeer Ken Alibek and Charles Bailey, the former head of the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick (”USAMRIID”). Dr. Bailey has published many articles about the Ames strain of anthrax. The Center for Biodefense co-directors Alibek and Bailey consulted for Battelle. Battelle has world-class expertise in aerosols and contracts with the government. Dr. Bailey did important work for the Defense Intelligence Agency relating to the threat of biological weapons.

    FBI Director Mueller is quoted in Ron Kessler’s new book commenting that Al Qaeda thinks nothing of taking years to infiltrate personnel into key positions. In a recent speech, Mueller spoke about the need for universities to safeguard against spies and avoid unauthorized access to pre-patent, pre-classification biochemistry information. In an unclasssified Homeland Security briefing from late October, examples of infiltration are given. The report explains that Al Qaeda operative Dhiren Bharot had tasked someone with taking a job at a hotel to learn how to defeat alarm systems. The report gave the JFK plot and Ft. Dix plots as other examples where an insider’s knowledge was key. When the access to know-how involves cutting-edge means of weaponizing anthrax, then, it is fascinating that the mainstream press so scrupulously avoids noting who drank from the same water cooler as Ali Al-Timimi. Newspaper journalists have even avoided mention of the fact he had a high security clearance. …


    Before his graduate work at GMU, Al-Timimi had done graduate work in computers at a different area university. But there might have been no need for installing something that logged what was typed on department computers, because he soon would be put in charge of coordinating the research from several universities using the computers at $70,000 a year. His program was co-sponsored by the American Type Culture Collection. ATCC does not deny to me that its patent repository (as distinguished from its online catalog) had virulent Ames. [The FBI, however, found no evidence that ATCC had virulent Ames] Although in bioinformatics, as part of that program, Ali had access to both ATCC facilities and Center for Biodefense facilities.


    The collections scientist from the ATCC bacteriology division (Jason B), in charge of managing access to the bacteria, came to head of the Amerithrax science investigation.

    The research by Alibek and Bailey with virulent Ames was done at SRI in downtown Frederick.

    Bruce Ivins’ accuser and assistant, Pat Fellows, the one who the FBI relies upon in characterizing Ivins’ time in the lab related to the killing of the 52 rabbits, came to head SRI’s BL-3 lab there in 2002. The importance of PF’s claims to the FBI’s finely spun cotton candy “Ivins Theory,” cannot be understated. Her claims are not supported by the documentary evidence eventually produced by USAMRIID.

    There are no secrets from someone who hails from Arlington, VA.

    Amerithrax is a case study of the lack of government accountability. The DOJ and FBI took inadequate steps to avoid conflicts of interest.

    The NSA, CIA and FBI should declassify key relevant intercepts and provide them to the GAO.

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

  14. DXer said

    Leaked Iranian letter warned US that Syrian rebels have chemical weapons
    Syrian President Assad’s strongest international backer, Iran, said it has warned the US about chemical weapons in rebel hands for more than a year.

    By Scott Peterson, Staff writer / September 9, 2013

    As a primary backer of the Syrian government, Iran has argued vehemently against US airstrikes, warned that sectarian “fire” will spread, and that jihadi rebels may have been behind the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack that US officials say killed more than 1,400 people near Damascus.

    According to leaked diplomatic correspondence, Iran has been warning Washington since July 2012 that Sunni rebel fighters have acquired chemical weapons, and called on the US to send “an immediate and serious warning” to rebel groups not to use them.

    In a letter acquired by The Christian Science Monitor that was sent sometime in the spring, Iran told American officials that, as a “supporter” of the rebels, the US would be held responsible for any rebel use of chemical weapons.

    Iran amplified those year-old warnings over the weekend in its strongest public comments to date linking the rebels with a chemical weapons, echoingRussia’s dismissal of American assurances that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces were toblame. The comments come as the US Congress prepares to vote on military strikes.

    Comment: Has this letter been uploaded? If not, why not?

    • DXer said

      It seems that the evidence is sufficient to charge the Assaad regime for war crimes and the case made in court. (I have heard the confident assertions by the respective sides but have not seen the evidence attributing the use of chemical weapons to one side or the other).

      The UN should be empowered by the parties to act quickly to take control of Syria’s chemical weapons.

      It seems that Syria could immediately sign and ratify the convention against use of chemical weapons.

      Indeed, separately the US could condition continued appropriations to Egypt and Israel that they do the same.

      selfie – Give Peace A Chance

    • DXer said

      Syria has announced it will sign and ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention.

  15. DXer said

    As Syria deteriorates, neighbors fear bioweapons threat, by Joby Warrick


    Other intelligence assessments have been more cautious, citing a lack of hard evidence that Syria’s fledgling efforts progressed to “weaponizing” pathogens for use in military rockets and shells. But some officials and independent experts say military biological weapons are not needed to launch a bioterrorist attack on civilians.

    “We know that they went at least as far as research and development,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview. “That means they’re far enough along to have capabilities. It doesn’t take a huge leap to get from there to having the ability to weaponize or finding some other way to deliver.”

    Syria’s early research on cultivating strains into weapons has been confirmed by multiple Western governments, with U.S. intelligence agencies tracking the country’s efforts through the 1970s and 1980s to counter arch-rival Israel’s nuclear weapons and conventional military dominance. In 2001, a declassified CIA assessment asserted that it was “highly probable” that Syria was developing an “offensive BW capability.” U.S. assessments have frequently cited the Scientific Studies and Research Center in Damascus, a military-run laboratory previously linked to covert programs for research on chemical and nuclear weapons.

    A 2008 profile of Syria’s unconventional weapons programs by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies concluded that its military had developed “probable production capacity for anthrax and botulism, and possible other agents.” The report said delivery systems for such weapons were within the grasp of Syria’s armed forces, which have long possessed missiles and rockets tipped with warheads.

    “So is the use of proxy or covert delivery,” stated the report, written by Anthony Cordesman, one of the center’s strategic analysts.

    Although little is publicly known about the state of Syria’s bioweapons program today — including whether it is active — the country has gained new capabilities in recent years through massive government investments in its pharmaceutical industry. Much of the equipment acquired by Syria’s military laboratories in recent years is regarded as “dual-use” and can be used either for weapons or legitimate research, said Jill Bellamy van Aalst, a scientist and a biodefense consultant to NATO and the European Union.

    Van Aalst, who has studied Syria’s weapons facilities for a decade as part of her research for a book, says the country’s bioweapons program, whatever its size, is capable of serious harm. Many of the basic elements have been in place for years, she said, including what she described as a full complement of lethal human and animal strains, from neurotoxin producers such as botulinum to the family of orthopox viruses such as camelpox and cowpox, both cousins to the microbe that causes smallpox.

    “You don’t stockpile biological weapons anymore, because today it’s all about production capacity — and in Syria the production capacity is quite substantial,” van Aalst said. “The dual-use nature makes it very cost-effective. In down times, you can use the equipment for public health purposes, knowing you can ramp it up at any time. These are very agile programs.”

    Other weapons experts view Syria’s biomedical expansion as intriguing but not necessarily alarming. “Syria has a chemical weapons program, so anything they do is suspect,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a weapons expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif. “It’s easy to see the devil behind every woodpile. But I suspect there’s probably not a lot there.”

  16. DXer said

    Internal Documents Reveal How the FBI Blew Fort Hood
    Nearly a year before the massacre, the bureau intercepted emails between Nidal Hasan and radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki that officials called “fairly benign.” They are anything but.

    The DCIS investigator and a supervisory agent in the Washington field office debated interviewing Hasan or his superiors. They ultimately decided doing so could jeopardize the Awlaki investigation or harm Hasan’s career.
    In May 2009, around the time the Washington field office wrapped up its Hasan investigation, Hasan’s emails to Awlaki took an ominous turn. In one message, he said he had “heard a speaker defending suicide bombings as permissible” and laid out the speaker’s rationale:

    For example, he reported a recent incident were an American Soldier jumped on a grenade that was thrown at a group of soldiers. In doing so he saved 7 soldiers but killed himself… So, he says this proves that suicide is permissible in this example because he is a hero. Then he compares this to a soldier who sneaks into an enemy camp during dinner and detonates his suicide vest to prevent an attack that is know to be planned the following day.
    Hasan made the case that the second act was as heroic as the first. He then delved into the question of “‘collateral damage’ where a decision is made to allow the killing of innocents for a valuable target.”

    “I would assume that suicide bomber whose aim is to kill enemy soldiers or their helpers but also kill innocents in the process is acceptable,” he wrote.

    At this point, “S-D Agent” asked the DCIS investigator on his team to press his Washington counterpart to dig deeper, after which the San Diego DCIS agent sent Washington an email asking why the investigation was so “slim.” In a follow-up phone call, he explained that San Diego would have at least interviewed Hasan. According to the Webster Commission, the Washington DCIS agent dismissed these concerns, saying the Washington field office “doesn’t go out and interview every Muslim guy who visits extremist websites” and stressing that the subject was “politically sensitive.” (The Webster report notes that the quotes are not verbatim).

    According to the FBI’s policy for resolving interoffice investigative disputes, at this point the San Diego field office should have communicated its concerns up the chain of command. But that didn’t happen. What’s more, none of the FBI agents involved thought to query the bureau’s database of intercepted electronic communications. Had they done so, the Webster Commission found, they would have uncovered other emails that “undermined the assumption” that Hasan had contacted Awlaki “simply to research Islam.”


    According to the congressional investigation, “SD-Agent” immediately pegged Hasan as the culprit. “You know who that is?” he asked one of his analysts. “That’s our boy.”

    Reports of Hasan’s contact with Awlaki quickly surfaced in the media, but the contents of the emails were not made public. On November 8, 2009, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee launched its investigation. According to a former Senate staffer who was involved in the inquiry, the committee struggled to get information from the FBI, which was reluctant to hand over the Awlaki emails and refused to let congressional investigators interview the agents involved. “The FBI insisted that it would have a chilling effect on the people making front-line decisions if they had to worry constantly about Congress calling them in to explain their actions,” the staffer said.

    Sen. Lieberman faulted the FBI and the Pentagon for failing to act on information that, “with the clarity of hindsight just shouts out, ‘Stop this guy before he kills somebody!'”


    Many of the issues in the Hasan case—particularly the breakdown in inter-agency communication—are reminiscent of the intelligence failures prior to the 9/11 attacks. One member of the Webster Commission told Mother Jones that the problems with information sharing have actually grown worse since 9/11 because of “the information explosion.

    Comment: God forbid Congressional oversight should influence how the FBI Agents do their job.

  17. DXer said

    Reporting in the wake of Hatfill: can a chilling effect be detected in how the news media handled the investigation of Bruce Ivins? Author(s): Jason Wiederin Source: News Media & the Law. 32.4 (Fall 2008): p31.

  18. DXer said

    A vocabulary of dis-ease: argumentation, hot zones, and the intertextuality of bioterrorism Author(s): Kevin J. Ayotte Source: Argumentation and Advocacy. 48.1 (Summer 2011): p1.

    COPYRIGHT 2011 American Forensic Association

    Abstract: This article examines the manner in which post-Cold War U.S. public discourse about biological terrorism has been inflected by the intertextuality of U.S. encounters with viruses such as Ebola. In particular, the rhetorical legacy of Richard Preston’s book, The Hot Zone, carries several powerful yet often unacknowledged premises regarding the magnitude and likelihood of bioterrorism into public debates about biological threats. The article explores this intertextuality in public argumentation about biodefense preparations and public health advocacy related to the 2001 anthrax attacks by analyzing the persuasive functions of the public vocabulary and cultural maps relied upon in making sense out of biological threats.

    “[A]s nothing exists outside the text, there is never a whole of the text.”

    –Roland Barthes

    On February 19, 2010, the FBI closed its investigation into the 2001 anthrax mail attacks, concluding on the basis of an array of circumstantial evidence that the late Dr. Bruce Ivins of the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland, had produced and mailed the anthrax spores. Ivins had committed suicide in July 2008 allegedly as a result of the pressure of the FBI’s investigation, but neither Ivins’s death nor the FBI’s decision that it could adequately prove its case in fact resulted in an end to the public deliberation about the anthrax attacks. Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ), for example, immediately called for a congressional review of the FBI’s work and decision to close the inquiry (Shane, 2010). More than merely a final step in legal or administrative protocol, the FBI’s closing of the case despite ongoing public argumentation reveals the wish to say completely, to make present in its epistemological totality, the truth of the U.S. experience of bioterrorism. Such a truth would be more than simply accurate data gathered through forensic science; it would be only that data with the additional stipulation that there is nothing more to be said, no more text to interpret, even as the U.S. public continues to negotiate what bioterrorism means for society. An actual trial would have demonstrated the fundamental impossibility of truly closing the case by making plain that the FBI’s conclusion was not settled truth but an argument. Whatever the final verdict, Ivins’s guilt or innocence would have been determined by the effect of a multitude of persuasive appeals toward the jury rather than the ontological fact of whether or not he produced and mailed the anthrax spores.

    The assumption of a phenomenal world knowable as a kind of closed truth, however, is an epistemological feature endemic to the vast majority of U.S. risk communication about the threat posed by biological weapons and bioterrorism. Analyses of perceived failures of bioterrorism risk communication cite the public’s undesirable behaviors or lack of accurate medical knowledge as an inability on the part of the audience to respond appropriately to the objective facts of disease. Thus, following the 2001 anthrax mail attacks, Marshall, Begier, Griffith, Adams, and Hadler (2005) cite the fact that tens of thousands of people took ciprofloxacin prophylactically, given the occurrence of five deaths out of a total 22 infections, to conclude that “[t]he anthrax attacks caused a national reaction out of proportion to the event itself” (p. 247). Neither the uncertainty about the extent of exposure in the midst of the anthrax mailings nor an abundance of public health caution adequately explains the response. While public health officials erred on the side of caution in cases with any reasonable possibility of exposure and provided the antibiotic for prophylactic use, orders through private insurers skyrocketed, with widespread concerns about hoarding of the publicized drug-of-choice against anthrax (Petersen & Pear, 2001). Many factors contributing to the alarm surrounding the anthrax attacks have been studied, and Vanderford (2003) stated that “[t]raining in the new field of risk communication has been offered as the best solution to communication problems in future emergencies” (p. 11) handled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication textbook (Reynolds, 2002) utilized for this training relies, like several other studies on bioterrorism risks conducted for the CDC, upon a general epistemology that contrasts a world of accurate information to exaggerations or public misunderstanding of risk and crisis communication (see Ayotte, Bernard, & O’Hair, 2009, pp. 617-18).

    This epistemological assumption can be seen across scholarship adopting what is essentially a deficit model of public health knowledge. Blendon et al. (2003) report that “survey results suggest the need for public education about smallpox, since many Americans have beliefs about the disease that are incorrect according to scientific views” (p. 431). Marshall et al. (2005) therefore advocate public education with the objective of “an increase in knowledge of smallpox mortality, transmission, contagiousness, and vaccine risk [which] would result in less anxiety and more rational personal decisions and public health response demands by the public” (p. 252). Public health officials often identify the simple lack of information about the relatively novel threat of bioterrorism, outside most people’s rudimentary knowledge of disease pathology and transmission, as a cause of public misunderstanding. Other commentators blame news media and politicians’ “gross exaggeration” (Leitenberg, 2005, p. 45) of the threat of bioterrorism for behavior out of line with critics’ assessment of the threat (see also Cole, 1999; Tucker & Sands, 1999).

    The positivist epistemological framework of public health officials-framing knowledge as either present or lacking, accurate or inaccurate-misunderstands the problem. Audiences interpreted public health advocacy surrounding the 2001 anthrax mailings, like all discourse advancing arguments about the nature of and response to bioterrorism threats, within an already established context of cultural knowledge about killer viruses. This article broadens understanding of how people in the United States have come to know bioterrorism by examining the manner in which post-Cold War public discourse about biological terrorism has been inflected by the intertextuality of U.S. encounters with so-called “emerging” viruses such as Ebola. More specifically, I argue that the rhetorical legacy of Richard Preston’s (1994) nonfiction book, The Hot Zone, plays a significant role in shaping the premises of public arguments about biological threats. Public health officials need to understand all bioterrorism risk communication as fundamentally rhetorical, a complex process of arguing about the nature, probability, and significance of hazards. This risk communication is part of, and its meaning is shaped by, a wider discourse about viral outbreaks that achieved cultural prominence shortly after the end of the Cold War. Critical attention to arguments in contemporary biosecurity discourse must therefore account for data and warrants that derive their content from intertextual references to popular culture outside of the medical facts offered by any particular instance of risk communication.

    The first section of this article establishes a theoretical framework for exploring the role of latent cultural knowledge in situating new information about bioterrorism within an established array of meanings available to public audiences. The second section identifies the commercial news media’s reliance on the intertextuality of The Hot Zone for interpreting the 2001 anthrax mailings and subsequent fears of bioterrorism. The third section of the essay traces the establishment of The Hot Zone, and its gruesome account of the Ebola virus, as a key coordinate of what would become the cultural map for bioterrorism in post-Cold War U.S. public argument. The final section of the article considers the impact of this cultural map, with its vocabulary of dis-ease, on public argumentation about bioterrorism.


  19. DXer said

    Obama 30 feet away. He was great.

    • DXer said

      Nearly didn’t get in. 20 minutes in a downpour, Secret Service said “It’s the Fire Marshal’s call.” “The next 20 and then that’s it…” and I was 15 back… with 150 people with tickets not getting in.

  20. DXer said

    FBI suspected William Vollmann was the Unabomber
    By Ron Charles, Published: August 21 at 10:08 pmE-mail the writer

    William Vollmann’s essay, “Life As a Terrorist,” appears in the Sept. issue of Harper’s magazine.

    The celebrated writer William Vollmann has revealed that the FBI once thought he might be the Unabomber, the anthrax mailer and a terrorist training with the Afghan mujahideen.

    In the September issue of Harper’s magazine, Vollmann describes the alarming and ludicrous contents of his 785-page secret government file, 294 pages of which he obtained after suing the FBI and CIA under the Freedom of Information Act. Spiked with sarcasm directed at what he sees as the agencies’ arrogance, presumptuousness and ineptitude, his Harper’s essay, “Life As a Terrorist,” is inflamed with moral outrage at the systemic violation of his privacy. “


    While I am eager read the magazine article and the underlying FOIA documents, it is best to approach the material appreciating that the FBI is damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

    Although hiring for the FBI and DOJ is very selective, at the end of the day these folks put their pants on one leg at a time and have a very challenging job.

    FOIA and public commentary — and the ongoing GAO review — is part of the respect-filled process that helps them improve their success rate and gain insights. Like the student who is always learning, it is important for the FBI and DOJ to review past work and take to heart lessons learned.

    Our focus should be on insisting that the FBI and DOJ adhere to known constitutional standards so as to avoid a historic claim for punitive damages. Also, the FBI and DOJ needs to remain open to correcting past missteps on the merits.

    Even when some blatant constitutional violations have occurred — and their have been some doozies — those of us who place a priority on national security and law and order are glad to let violations slide so long as the FBI continues to strive to protect the lives of innocents.

    Mr. Montooth and Ms. Lieber are mistaken in thinking that there is any chance in salvaging their Ivins Theory. For starters, the NSA has been reading their email all along.

    • DXer said

      Reading one’s FBI file is rarely pleasant,” Vollmann writes. He discovered that someone — Vollmann gives him the codename “Ratfink” — turned him in to the authorities as a possible Unabomber suspect because of the content of his fiction. His file claims that “anti-growth and anti-progress themes persist throughout each VOLLMANN work.” In this case, his accuser was referring to “Fathers and Crows,” a novel “set mostly in Canada in the seventeenth century.” Even more conclusive, the FBI observed ominously that “UNABOMBER, not unlike VOLLMANN has pride of authorship and insists his book be published without editing.”


      Some points to keep in mind.

      People have widely varying abilities at critical reasoning. We don’t blame babies for their spit-up. It is part of the human experience and richness of life.

      Moreover, the FBI cannot be faulted for receiving and processing input. That’s their job.

      Finally, a million dollar reward invites theorizing. Even a $10,000 reward invites brainstorming.

      While I have just started reading the article, it is important to keep one’s sense of humor — especially if your own UNABOM theory proved to be mistaken in light of the truckload of evidence against Kacyznski found in the cabin.

      I always found the UNABOM case fascinating in light of the call out to nordicist anarchists in paras. 222 and 278 of the manifesto — and the fact that an author named Joe LaFollette I interviewed (as I recall the name today) wrote the unpublished TECHNOPHOBIA (on file at the Copyright Office) at the suggestion of Ted’s brother years before the arrest. In the unpublished TECHNOPHOBIA, the bearded man awoke as if from a dream realizing he had brutally killed many people. (I read the book by going to the Madison buliding in DC and pulling it from deep archives.)

      Joe told me that David, while living in a hole in Texas, had given him the idea on a camping trip. I’ve always wanted to ask David what it was like living with Ted at the family home in 1978 while he was making a bomb in the garage — but when David came to Syracuse to talk he made it clear that there were some questions he would not be answering. We owe a great deal to his ethicist wife for pressuring David to turn Ted in.

    • DXer said

      Vollman writes:

      “What more evidence do we need!?
      It’s hard to decide if we should be more concerned about what he describes as the agency’s nefariousness or its stupidity. Vollmann notes that the FBI couldn’t determine his Social Security number because it spelled his name wrong. His file incorrectly claims that he owns a flamethrower. (“I would love to own a flamethrower,” he writes.) It erroneously records him traveling to Beirut. In 1995, he was labeled “ARMED AND DANGEROUS.”
      He makes hand-made art books.”


      In Amerithrax, the man Tarek supplied virulent Ames by Bruce E. Ivins was misidentified, apparently, on the B3 log, by a mistaken spelling of his name. That, apparently, could explain why the FBI did not think to obtain the correspondence between Ivins and the University of Michigan researchers until 2005. (Judging from the telephone number from which the documents were faxed, Art F appears to have obtained the correspondence from Bruce and then faxed it to the FBI).

      I have uploaded the correspondence here.

      The FBI knew that Dr. Zawahiri’s confidantes had announced his intention to use anthrax against US targets and Dr. Zawahiri himself was successfully recruiting operatives, including Tarek’s friends, at Cairo Medical School.

      Given Dr. Ayman’s sister Heba taught microbiology in the same department in which Tarek obtained his PhD, it was a major dropped ball not to have obtained the correspondence before Spring 2005. The FBI always knew that Bruce Ivins had the largest repository of virulent Ames — and so tracing the paper record relating to its distribution of Ames should have been of primary importance. Tarek was not a citizen. Bruce was giving Ames to a non-citizen whose friends had been recruited by Ayman Zawahiri into jihad. So either the FBI or CIA majorly dropped the ball from the start or else they have been very clever. The jury is still out.

      On the other hand, given a subpoena to LSU (where Tarek had worked at a B3 lab) and University of Michigan in late 2001 — long before the subpoenas to numerous other labs — maybe the FBI and CIA didn’t drop the ball after all. Maybe the NSA was on top of things intercepting all manner of communication. It’s hard to know. I certainly have been making the same argument — and directing it to the NSA and CIA — since December 2001.

      The FBI in pursuing any theory is still faced with a very challenging issue of proof — and the case (although closed) is still unsolved..

      In a recent poll conducted by the Frederick News-Post, 60% thought the FBI’s “Ivins Theory” was mistaken, 20% weren’t sure, and 20% agreed with the FBI

      • DXer said

        Congressional Report Confirms Boston Bomber Name Misspelled in Security Database, March 26, 2014


        In Amerithrax, the man Tarek supplied virulent Ames by Bruce E. Ivins was misidentified, apparently, on the B3 log, by a mistaken spelling of his name. That, apparently, could explain why the FBI did not think to obtain the correspondence between Ivins and the University of Michigan researchers until 2005. (Judging from the telephone number from which the documents were faxed, Art F appears to have obtained the correspondence from Bruce and then faxed it to the FBI).”

        The IG’s report from January 2002 was the opportunity to determine whether any foreign nationals that had been proximate with Ayman Zawahiri had been supplied virulent Ames at USAMRIID by its chief custodian, Bruce Ivins. But the DOJ caused the report to seal it even though the related documents were removed from Protective Order No. 3 in Maureen Stevens v. United States. When the US government makes a mistake, all the players need to do is avoid producing the document being produced. The GAO should prod the DOJ to release the civil deposition of Colonel Elliott, who led the IG Team.

    • DXer said

      William Vollmann ≠ Terrorist

      “However, that the FBI of 2013 could not distinguish from an unconventional writer and a potential terrorist is troubling, suggesting that the agency is only very well read, but potentially clueless.”


      I haven’t seen the article yet but is Mr. Vollman taking into account that the list of suspects was something like 2000 long and a rolling list? What is the FBI to do but work through the information provided it?

      Once I met with some FBI agents (UNABOM even came up) and didn’t realize I had a poison blow gun hung up directly behind me (from Bali or somewhere similar). Fortunately I had distributed all my swords concealed in canes bought in Thailand (to young nephews) before I gave the surprised but eager agents a tour of my dirty laundry.

      Anyone who works hard to be interested and interesting should merely smile and be bemused when our Government in the Sunshine laws prove little more than that those laws work.

      We know about the incorrect internal suggestion about a flame thrower only because he disclosed it.

      I have a set of JARTS (dangerous throwing weapons) — illegal in all 50 states — that I recently disposed of precisely so that moronic fantasist doesn’t blow me in to the coppers as a terrorist.

      Men like former FBI Amerithrax head Michael Mason know precisely what is involved in the delicate balancing act between protecting privacy and civil liberties and protecting the lives of innocents. (If not, he sure was mighty eloquent on the subject; for that matter, Attorney Ashcroft was also very eloquent when he came to SU to speak before an unsympathetic audience of students).

      There’s nothing easy about the job and we should be slow to think we could do better.

      On Amerithrax, I think that the FBI Agents and prosecutors are mistaken. I think Adnan El-Shukrijumah was the mailer. (Here’s the analysis — the graphics were done by a federal undercover agent who is a dear friend).

      But that is said while realizing the difficult and complex challenge Amerithrax has posed.

      All of us are wrong at different times about different things.

      People that don’t realize that … well, are wrong.

      As far as I can tell, any lapses in correct judgment calls by FBI Agents are no more frequent than with any other job group. They have the same CYA instincts we all do in an uncertain economy.

      Of course, if the FBI violates constitutional standards, and they come to piss you off or have caused you injury, then sue their ass and retire on the award of damages.

      In the meantime, be nice to them for at least so long as you are hiding a set of jarts in your garage.

    • DXer said

      In the article, his upset with the FBI began over an investigation into pornography involving a photographer friend. The friend was cleared but it caused considerable anxiety for a long time. VOLLMAN suggested that not all sexual encounters between adult men and pre-adolescent children is child pornography.”

      He then writes:

      “In 2002, immediately following my return from Yemen to report on that country’s sometimes gleeful observance of the previous year’s September 11 attacks on the United States, I went to Mexico to continue a long-term research project there. On recrossing the border into Calexico, California, I and my companion, an American with a Middle Eastern name, were detained. The Yemeni stamp in my passport disturbed the patrolmen.”

      They detained the pair for a couple of hours. The cold faucet was broken and so they offered only warm water to drink. One said he didn’t like his expression. The others were just indifferent.

      Now, why does Mr. Vollman think the FBI was not doing its job in having inquiries made upon the border crossing?

    • DXer said

      The next time he crossed he was travelling with an American woman born in Saudi Arabia andhe was detained 7 hours.

      Does Mr. Vollman understand that Adnan El-Shukrijumah and others were thought to be sneaking into the US across the Mexican border? See State Department memo leaked by “Chelsea” Manning about the sighting south of the border.

    • DXer said

      Mr. Vollman writes:

      “The Amerithrax incidents occurred not long after the September 11 attacks. Five people died and seventeen grew ill. At that time one friend of mine worked himself into a near panic because the antidote, cirprofloxacin, was in short supply. He longed for a family-sized bottle, just in case. I remember believing, as did my neighbors, that Al Qaeda must have sent those poisoned letters. Apparently I should have suspected myself.


      I suppose the person interviewed was the woman whom they quizzed about my Afghanistan book and who “identified the person in the photograph as the same William VOLLMANN.” I am pretty sure who she is. I am disappointed in her, since I would have thought she knew me better than that, but I forgive her: “This source believed plaintiff’s handwriting resembled the anthrax letters.”

      I don’t see evidence of wrongdoing or particular noteworthy on the part of the FBI — neither in the case of UNABOM or Amerithrax. But I commend the subscription-only article to you as a fun read.

      My wife tells me I have to shave for the President and so perhaps was rushing in reading the article.

    • DXer said

      On the first two pages of his his Afghan Picture Show book William T. Vollman talks about the liability of his rapidly declining immune system and already having a stomach ache when he visited Afghanistan in 1982. The fellow who lived down from me on the border of Berkeley in 1982 went to Afghanistan and came back in late August with a bad stomach ache. The address was on Alcatraz on the border of Oakland and Berkeley. William T. Vollman, was that you? It was a second floor apartment and the photographer with the bad stomach ache was down at the end of the hall.

      When you understand that the some of the same players fighting in 1982 were still active in 2001, any travelling with jihadists (especially associated with a particular warlord) would have made you very interesting to the FBI upon travelling to Yemen to record the celebration of 911 — especially upon crossing the border with Mexico in returning to the US.

      It would have been entirely lawful and understandable that you would be questioned. As for whether it took 2 hours or 7 hours the second time (while the nice FBI Agent arrived), the FBI would have been entirely remiss, even negligent, if such interviews were not conducted. Sometimes the price of freedom includes suffering the inconvenience of waiting while processing at a border occurs.

      • DXer said

        I was also at Cornell with Mr. Vollman before Berkeley. I suppose they subpoenaed his Cornell records to see if the courses he took included any works cited in the UNABOM manifesto — or maybe a course with an anti-technology theme.

      • DXer said

        At page 85, the Afghan Picture Show states: “the Young Man has become me, who is quite satisfied to raise enough money here in Oakland to maybe send the Mujahideen one machine gun, and then let’s call it quits and go on some other project.” He then pictures a letter he wrote in 1984 to an arms manufacturer inquiring about anti-aircraft missiles. Although analysis in the UNABOM matter necessarily depended importantly on the whereabouts of the person on the dates of mailing, it is simply wrongheaded to suggest that the FBI did anything wrong in processing the information relating to the suggestion that he was the UNABOM subject (just as they worked through thousands of other possible leads). In the FBI file produced under FOIA, the record notes that he travelled extensively but that the travels did not exclude him. (Sometimes an interview or subpoena is necessary to get at information that can exclude a person; that’s the FBI’s job.)

        Indeed, as for anthrax, although never talked about (or understood), Peshawar at that time (see the Table of Contents in his Afghan Picture Book) historically figures very importantly in the analysis of Dr. Ayman’s later anthrax planning, with the Blind Sheik Abdel-Rahman, Zawahiri, Islambouli, KSM and the Blind Sheik all based there about that time. (I will have to pull up my notes about when Islambouli was forced to move from Peshawar; and if you don’t know who Islambouli is then you haven’t solved Amerithrax and are not prepared for the next attack).

        On Amerithrax, it likely would be a very simple matter to exclude Mr. Vollman based on his credit card and telephone records (unless he was living in the New York City at the time). The FBI has little difficulty in the usual case of someone living on the grid figuring out, in broad terms, where someone was geographically at a particular time (if not too long ago). Adnan El-Shukrijumah and Abderraouf Jdey posed special challenges because they were operational. Adnan, in particular, had numerous false identities and was a chameleon. It was thought he was entering the country through Mexico.

  21. DXer said

    What scientific tools are available to quickly sort out the claims today that chemical weapons have been used in Syria?

    While we wait for pathology reports and environmental sampling, are there authenticated videos that provide compelling evidence?

    We regularly see the press releases about the millions spent on facilities intended to defend against biological and chemical attacks, but will all those tax dollars result in quick answers to the disputed claims?

    My daughter grew bored with watching NCIS — Gibbs bringing Abby coffee grew old, I guess. But are there agencies and scientists who can provide a reliable scientific and public confirmation of either the claims or the rebuttals?

  22. DXer said

    My daughter and I got our ticket to hear President Obama speak Thursday at a local high school on the importance of education and keeping college affordable.

    A private college costs an average $144,265, starting now, and $189,102 starting in 5 years.

    • DXer said

      Unfortunately, Obama hasn’t done his homework on Amerithrax. He receives a failing grade for not reopening Amerithrax. The White House rationale? The WH did not want to undermine confidence in the FBI. That’s exactly the type of reasoning that allowed the Whitey Bulger mess to last for decades.

  23. Anonymous said

    Document here shows that Bruce Ivins said the attack powder most closely resembled a Bg weaponized surrogate that had been treated with hydrophobic silica.

  24. DXer said

    This mathematical model announced in a press release today uses Sverdlosk as a case study? That’s ironic. It took 20 years to get that history and science right because of the intentional attempt to conceal and obstruct analysis by those in power and those under their influence. The incident was falsely claimed to have been due to the ingestion of contaminated beef rather than an accidental release from a bioweapons factory. The answer was pretty obvious from the start given the evidence available to pathologists but obfuscated by the Russian leadership (to include Ken Alibek) and others subject to their influence who are still prominent today. Part of Ken’s charm is his forthright and affable description of his past role in that deception. Given he knew Ali Al-Timimi was a hardliner — and shared the suite with Alibek and fellow Ames researcher Charles Bailey — Ken long ago got out of dodge and left the US.

    Public release date: 15-Aug-2013

    Contact: Phil Sahm
    University of Utah Health Sciences
    Answering crucial questions about anthrax exposure

    Information derived through mathematical model can help guide responses to attacks

    (SALT LAKE CITY)—If terrorists targeted the United States with an anthrax attack, health care providers and policy makers would need key information – such as knowing the likelihood of an individual becoming infected, how many cases to expect and in what pattern, and how long to give antibiotics – to protect people from the deadly bacteria.

    Those questions gained urgency when anthrax-laced letters killed five people and infected 17 others in the wake of the terror attacks of September 2001. Now, using information from prior animal studies and data from a deadly anthrax exposure accident in Russia in the late 1970s, University of Utah and George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center researchers have developed a mathematical model to help answer critical questions and guide the response to a large-scale anthrax exposure.

    In an Aug. 15, 2013, study in PLOS Pathogens online, the researchers use their model to estimate that for an individual to have a 50 percent chance of becoming infected with anthrax (known as ID50), he or she would have to inhale 11,000 spores of the bacteria. A 10 percent chance of being infected would require inhaling 1,700 spores and a 1 percent chance of infection would occur by inhaling 160 spores. The researchers also found that at ID50, the median time for anthrax symptoms to appear is 9.9 days and that the optimal time to take antibiotics is 60 days.

    “Anthrax is a well-studied disease and experimental animal data exist, but there is no real good information on dose response for the disease in humans,” says Adi V. Gundlapalli, M.D., Ph.D., an infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist, associate professor of internal medicine at the U of U School of Medicine and staff physician at the Salt Lake City George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. “We don’t want to be overly fearful, but we need to be prepared in the event of a bioterrorism attack with anthrax.”

    Although studies with animals at other institutions have looked at anthrax, the data are limited and usually involved vaccine testing and not exposure amounts for infection. Gleaning information from accidental exposures in isolated cases is difficult and not often helpful. So, Toth and Gundlapalli gathered what useful information from animal studies reported in the medical literature and then combined it with data from an accidental exposure at a Soviet Union bioterrorism plant that occurred in the city of Sverdlovsk, Russia, in 1979.

    Gundlapalli, who as a postdoctoral fellow at the U of U helped build a bioterrorism surveillance system for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and Damon J.A. Toth, Ph.D., a mathematician and assistant professor of internal medicine at the U of U, are co-first authors on the study.

    Anthrax is found on the skin of dead animals and its spores can live thousands of years. People can become infected when they are in close proximity to anthrax, such as a farmworker who might be exposed to a dead animal and inhales spores of the bacteria. But it also can be manufactured in laboratories and spread in other ways, such as when people opened letters containing anthrax or when the spores are put into an aerosol and dispersed over large areas by wind currents.

    Previous studies at other institutions had provided widely varying estimates of the chance of becoming infected with anthrax with low dose exposure. For example, one model based on animal data estimated a 1 percent chance of becoming infected from inhaling one spore, while another study estimated that healthy humans would have virtually no chance of becoming infected after inhaling up to 600 spores. But analyzing the results from a better documented, non-human primate study at another institution, in combination with a carefully constructed mathematical model appropriate for humans, Toth estimated that the number of spores required for a 1 percent chance of infection is 160. These estimates were derived by developing and refining a competing-risks model in which the inhaled bacteria is trying to set up an infection in the lungs and the human body is trying to expel or control the bacteria. Toth then used available experimental animal data to optimize the working of the model to produce results that matched the timing of cases at Sverdlovsk.

    “Our study, for the first time, takes all the best data and modeling techniques available on dose response and evaluates them critically,” Toth says. “No one study satisfied all our criteria to be the best model, so we refined the available information to develop our model.”

    “When the Institute of Medicine was asked to look at the effectiveness and costs of different strategies to respond to an anthrax in 2012, the Committee identified a critical need for accurate information on the time from exposure until people became ill and how this would change depending on the dose,” said Andrew Pavia, M.D., professor and chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah and a member of the IOM committee that wrote the report, “Prepositioning antibiotics for Anthrax,” and a consultant to CDC on anthrax. “The time between exposure and when symptoms develop is the most effective time to administer antibiotics to prevent illness. This study adds a thoughtful approach to using all of the available data to improve these estimates, but considerable uncertainty will remain.” Pavia was not involved in the study

    Along with existing animal studies, data gathered from the accident at Sverdlovsk proved invaluable. Up to 100 people died when a filter was accidently left off a piece of equipment at a plant that was developing anthrax as a bioterrorism weapon. Spores of the bacteria were released into the air near the town of Sverdlovsk. The Soviets eventually let outside experts in to study the accident. From publicly available accounts, despite limited records and a substantial delay before the investigation, it would appear that scientists were able to estimate when the release happened, plot where people were in the surrounding area when it occurred and then look at weather records to identify wind currents. With that information, they plotted how the spores were scattered in relation to people who became infected.

    The timing and geographic pattern of the best documented cases from Sverdlovsk were consistent with both the shape of the dose-response curve and the distribution of incubation periods produced by the new model. The model also sheds light on how long antibiotics should be given after an exposure to decrease the chances of infection. The model’s predictions match so well with publicly available Sverdlovsk data that Gundlapalli and Toth believe they can use the model to reasonably estimate how exposures to anthrax would unfold, especially at low doses of the bacteria.

    “By combining the data from Sverdlovsk and prior studies, we can make defensible estimates on how scenarios might play out if anthrax were released in a terrorist attack,” Gundlapalli says. “How many cases could we expect? When would be expect to see the cases? How long should we treat those exposed with preventive antibiotics? Our model provides real answers to help policy makers when they need that information.”

    • DXer said

      Instead of coming to Syracuse as rumored, President Obama should let the girls and Michelle go on to Skaneateles and the Renaissance fair and President Obama should get back to work. The world potential for even greater turmoil is increasing as Egypt declares emergency.

      President Obama should think back to his days at Gannett House. He should walk upstairs and sit down in a carrel with some reading and learn the subject relating to Amerithrax. That’s why the country elected such a well-qualified, hard-working and smart guy — to work his way through large amounts of material and apply the critical reasoning his mother taught him on those early mornings.

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