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

* Sandia Security Review Final Report (2002) Conclusion: No Security System Can Prevent The Diversion By A Determined Insider With Authorized Access and System Knowledge

Posted by DXer on March 5, 2014


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8 Responses to “* Sandia Security Review Final Report (2002) Conclusion: No Security System Can Prevent The Diversion By A Determined Insider With Authorized Access and System Knowledge”

  1. DXer said

    Dr. Reynolds M. Salerno obtained his PhD from Yale. He is from Upstate New York. At Sandia, he consulted with USAMRIID in Spring 2002. He and his team made several visits to USAMRIID. I highly recommend both his civil deposition to you and the dozens of exhibits.

    He testified, at page 44 of his 250+ page civil deposition:

    “At the time, the security professionals — there was really very, very few security professionals at USAMRIID. And those who were there were not the most sophisticated people. And, you know, the number of comments by the security people who got in trouble for “bothering the doctors,” I think is a quote that we used in here, was quite high.”

    And so the — so this was, you know, one of the things that I was passionate about then and still passionate about today is that particular to this biological problem that if the scientists are personnel are not committed to the protection of the materials, then, you know, security will not be effective.

    But maybe — it’s different in other areas, you know, the nuclear one that I’m also very familiar with, because the materials are much larger, and you can actually use physical systems to give you a high degree of confidence, security confidence — even a highly intrusive physical system is not adequate to prevent someone from surreptitiously walking out with an organism.” (p. 44)

    • DXer said

      At page 54:

      “Q. So if you had a bad actor in there, it wouldn’t make too much difference how much the physical security was or how detailed the keeping track of the amount of the material happened, i you had somebody inside that was not reliable and wanted to, in fact, obtain some of these pathogens for illicit purposes or aggressive purposes, that could be done?

      A. Correct.” (p. 54).

    • DXer said

      Dr. Reynolds Salerno testified at his civil deposition:

      “Q. You mentioned, “At the time of the Sandia review [Spring 2002], 13 USAMRIID employees held a Top Secret security clearance and 168 USAMRIID employees held a Secret security clearance. Thus the overwhelming majority, 497 employees, held no security clearance.” Correct?

      A. Correct. (p. 55)”

    • DXer said

      More from the civil deposition of Reynolds M. Salerno, the Sandia consulted hired as a USAMRIID consultant in 2002:

      Q. When you write that “Diversion of event small amounts can be significant,” would that apply also to microscopic amounts?

      A. Absolutely. All you need is one organism, in theory. If you have one organism, which can be extremely microscopic, and you have the right growth media and the right technical expertise, you can amplify that single organism into hundreds, thousands, and millions of organisms.” (p. 220)

    • DXer said

      Sandia’s biosecurity expert Dr. Salerno’s civil deposition at page 250:

      “Q. Would the answer to that be to require rigorous inventory also on a daily basis of the working stocks?

      A. Okay, how do you do that? I mean, working stocks include animals. I mean, so at a place like USAMRIID, it was working with many, many animals. They had animal models, animals that they would infect with organisms. So to they would have dozens and dozens, arguably hundreds of animals infected with HCPTs. That means that taking a sample or a — from one of these animals, would have to be — or the animals themselves and the number of organism inside those animals, as well as inside the animal’s excrement, as well as in any animal carcasses, you’d have to inventory those. And I don”t now how you do that. Because you’d be inventorying different things; you’d be inventorying numbers of animals, you know, amount of excrement, number of carcasses, you know, Petri dishes versus vials, versus something …”

    • DXer said

      At page 253, Dr. Salerno debunks the suggestion that a surveillance camera could prevent a diversion:

      “And the likelihood of having a camera adequately positioned such that it would identify specifically the diversion of biological materials from a legitimate Petri dish into an illegitimate container of some kind that was used … would be very low.”

      “So it — there is a possibility, if you had a lot of these cameas, that you might be able to reconstruct the diversion that had happened sometime in the past. But I think there is an equal amount of possibility that a determined insider could divert material, even if there were cameras in the room.” (p. 254)

      In his deposition, Dr. Salerno debunks the suggestion that the two person rule used in a nuclear setting can prevent a diversion in the biological setting.

      Dr. Salerno’s civil deposition is a priority to obtain — not only because it is 250+ pages but because it contains dozens of exhibits. The deposition exhibits would have to be expressly mentioned in the FOIA request or else DOJ Civil will only think to give you the transcript.

      I only have the fairly lengthy excerpt that was in the last or one of the lasts filed court exhibits on PACER. I have been having all sorts of technical problems downloading and uploading documents or else I would have simply distributed and uploaded the lengthy excerpt that is available. I’ve typed in some highlights that can serve while someone requests the 250+ page deposition. In other filings the exhibit was sealed. So there may or may not be still portions subject to a protective order — but James K and his colleagues are highly expert and would know when they turn to processing it upon request.

  2. DXer said

    Mary Victoria Cieplak addressed the Fall 2001 anthrax malings In a PhD thesis titled: “Bioterrorism Policy and Implementation in the United States: The Impact of the 2001 Anthrax Attacks. She was at the University of Birmingham. The thesis is dated April 5, 2013.

    Dr. Cieplak writes that while the laws passed prior to 2001 motivated by lax security involving anthrax at ATCC involving anthrax,

    “were an attempt to prevent the sale of agents to
    terrorists and also tightened restrictions on the shipping and reporting of biological agents,
    the US government took little notice of the vulnerabilities that their own scientists exploited
    when obtaining, using and studying biological agents, until it was too late. There was also a
    major problem with the list of potential suspects and the list of scientists assisting with the
    investigation, providing more proof of how unprepared the US government was for this
    attack. Agent Scott Stanley, who was assigned to the case, said, “We knew right out of the
    gate we could have had an offender working on our evidence” (Willman, 2011, 136). The
    FBI had a person of interest, Dr. Steven Jay Hatfill, who was later deemed innocent and
    awarded damages.13

    Also, under immediate suspicion were al Qaeda and Iraq, but some bioterrorism
    experts and academics, such as Benjamin Friedman, argue that al Qaeda’s failure to develop
    BWs in previous years proves that they are unlikely to succeed in mass destruction
    (Friedman, 2010, 189). However, it is possible that al Qaeda has already used BWs in the US
    (Schneider, 2007, 52). Several pieces of evidence, though circumstantial, have come to light
    involving the September 11th hijackers living in Florida. For example, in June 2001, hijacker
    Ahmed Ibrahim al-Haznawi went to the doctors complaining about a blackish scab covering a
    wound he claimed to have received on the edge of a suitcase (Thompson, 2003, 51). The
    doctor removed and discarded the scab, at the time, not thinking anything of it, but later
    realized, when questioned by the FBI, that it could have been a cutaneous anthrax lesion
    (Thompson, 2003, 52). Also around the same time, Muhammad Atta, the alleged ringleader,
    had made two suspicious visits in 2001 to check out and take pictures of crop dusting
    equipment (Thompson, 2003, 54). The year following the anthrax attacks, al Qaeda
    spokesman, Suleiman Abu Gheith, released a statement that said, “We [al Qaeda] have the
    right to kill 4 million Americans, 2 million of them children … cripple them in the hundreds
    of thousands. Furthermore, it is our obligation to fight them with CBWs, to afflict them with
    the fatal woes that have afflicted Muslims because of their CBWs” (Forest, 2007, 216-7).
    Senior al Qaeda strategist, Abu Musab Al-Suri, stated that “The last option is to destroy the
    US by means of decisive strategic operations with WMD including nuclear, chemical, or
    BWs if [M]ujahideen are able to obtain them in cooperation with those who possess them,
    purchase them, or manufacture and use primitive atomic bombs or the so-called dirty bombs”
    (Forest, 2007, 218).

    Despite the circumstantial evidence regarding other suspects, the FBI came to settle
    on a 62-year-old suspect named Dr. Bruce Edwards Ivins, who was a longtime scientist at the
    Fort Detrick Army microbiology laboratories (Cole, 2009, viii).”

    • DXer said

      The thesis is online at

      In her review of literature, she writes:

      “Clark is also skeptical about calling the 2001 anthrax mailings acts of bioterrorism, because the unknown perpetrator who carried out the attacks has not been convicted, making it impossible to understand the motives behind them.”

      She writes of Al Qaeda:

      “Al Qaeda was alleged to have successfully purchased samples of anthrax, plague, ricin and botulinum toxin In 1999. 2001 and 2002.”

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