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

* Microbiologist Robert J. Hawley, Chief of USAMRIID’s Safety Office, in his deposition produced today, testified that prior to 2002, security check of foreign nationals accessing B3 labs at USAMRIID was not a responsibility of the safety office.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 23, 2014

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13 Responses to “* Microbiologist Robert J. Hawley, Chief of USAMRIID’s Safety Office, in his deposition produced today, testified that prior to 2002, security check of foreign nationals accessing B3 labs at USAMRIID was not a responsibility of the safety office.”

  1. DXer said

    With respect to the 340 ml. of Ames shipped on June 27, 2001 — whether it was irradiated and where it was shipped — the individual handling things in his absence that week of Dr. Hawley’s scheduled vacation is the person who most likely may know.

  2. DXer said

    C.D.C. Closes Anthrax and Flu Labs After Accidents
    By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.JULY 11, 2014
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/12/science/cdc-closes-anthrax-and-flu-labs-after-accidents.html?_r=0

    Dr. William Schaffner, the head of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University’s medical school, said he thought all American labs should stop shipping all hazardous agents until they have reviewed their safety procedures. Although there is no obvious way to force them to do that, he said, the federal grants that most labs depend on “could be the stick.”

    Dr. Frieden himself suggested that the accidents had implications for labs beyond his agency, arguing that the world needs to reduce to absolute minimums the number of labs handling dangerous agents, the number of staff members involved and the number of agents circulating.

    Comment:

    My focus on the true crime matter from 2001 is far narrower than these policy issues. But Dr. Ebright’s and Hugh-Jones points on the subject have always made sense to me.

  3. DXer said

    The odd thing about the depositions by the IG and Sandia team is that the team leaders did not interview Dr. Ivins — known to have had the largest repository of the strain used in the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings.

    Why was so much money spent on Amerithrax genetics — which did little more than reduce the 700 known to have virulent Ames to “up to 300” — when the money might have been far better spent on airfare delivering Rauf Ahmad and Yazid Sufaat for prosecution? Why wasn’t the time spent asking those that had virulent Ames if any former associates of Ayman Zawahiri had been supplied virulent Ames without any security vetting? Why was the FBI first supplied relevant correspondence in Spring 2005?

    Agent Borelli expected Rauf Ahmad to be prosecuted but then realized the matter was going to go the route of secret prisons.

    Amerithrax: In February 2002, the FBI Failed To Take Custody of Al Qaeda Anthrax Scientists Rauf Ahmad and Yazid Sufaat
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 14, 2013
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/amerithrax-in-february-2002-the-fbi-failed-to-take-custody-of-al-qaeda-anthrax-scientists-rauf-ahmad-and-yazid-sufaat/

    Zawahiri says he only got the idea to use anthrax because the media and government contractors kept saying how easy it was.

    see also
    OKC Murder Plot Suspect Got Ricin Idea From Popular TV Show
    Posted: Apr 23, 2014 11:07 PM EDT
    http://www.news9.com/story/25326244/okc-murder-plot-suspect-got-ricin-idea-from-popular-tv-show

    And so it seems unsettling for Dr. Keim / NAU to issue a press release announcing how easy it is to use as a weapon some pathogen we’ve never heard about.

    Keim Lab Pathogen Research May Open Pathways to Precision Medicine
    Released: 4/14/2014 5:00 PM EDT
    Source Newsroom: Northern Arizona University
    http://www.newswise.com/articles/keim-lab-pathogen-research-may-open-pathways-to-precision-medicine

    Newswise — Research motivated to blunt the sinister potential of a deadly infectious disease may hold the promise of life-saving treatments at the edge of a transformation in medical care.
    With $7 million in funding from the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a research team led by Paul Keim, Regents’ professor at Northern Arizona University, will employ expertise that ranges from genetic sequencing to high-performance computing in the quest to treat, and perhaps even prevent, melioidosis.

    “One of the clues to our condition as humans is how our immune system is working,” said Keim, whose Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics will work with blood samples infected with Burkholderia pseudomallei, the bacteria that causes melioidosis. “This whole project is designed to understand how the immune system responds to an infection.”

    The complexity of the disease often confounds clinicians. Melioidosis, which is prominent in parts of Southeast Asia and northern Australia, is known as “the great mimicker” because it produces symptoms that can look like flu, pneumonia, sepsis or even a sexually transmitted disease, Keim said.

    But the pathogen, usually found in soil and water, is also widely available to those who would put it to use for other purposes.

  4. DXer said

    Spores: The Threat of a Catastrophic Anthrax Attack on America (2007)
    http://www.domesticpreparedness.com/userfiles/reports/AnthraxThreat.pdf

    Anthrax, Al Qaeda and the Infiltration of US Biodefense
    http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

    Case Closed
    http://www.amazon.com/Case-Closed-Lewis-M-Weinstein/dp/1595943188/ref%3Dntt_at_ep_dpi_1

  5. DXer said

    The “Confidential Deposition Pursuant to Protective Order” of another witness, expert Richard L. Wade, PhD, was produced today by DOJ Civil and uploaded in the USAMRIID Electronic Reading Room.

    An excerpt:

    “Q. Prior to October of 2001, what biosecurity measures or practices did NIH have in place that USAMRIID lacked?

    A. NIH, and I had occasion to visit the NIH laboratories, had very strict control over who was going in; personnel access, security background checks of individuals, access to agents, use of video monitoring, search and — in and out, and I would say, very high-level physical security, and security of the core agents in freezers or containers.” (p. 48)

    http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

    • DXer said

      Excerpt from Dr. Wade’s civil deposition produced by DOJ Civil FOIA today:

      Q. And beyond that, do you have any information concerning the practice or policies at place in USAMRIID in connection with visitors going into containment suites?
      A. I do not.
      Q. All right. So you don’t know whether they had to be escorted or not, for example?
      A. I do not.
      Q. All right. What observations have you made concerning practices at USAMRIID for visitors, compared to practices at NIH concerning visitors, prior to October of 2001?
      A. I think I just answered that question. That at USAMRIID, they had a visitors badge;
      whether that was an escorted and how rigorously that was enforced, I think is the issue and concern in my mind, because there is evidence from the deposition of people who worked there, as well as the auditors who reviewed the facility, that there was lack of specific standard procedures. There was lack of enforcement, and the procedures were quite informal.
      Q. Are you aware of any evidence in this case showing that the anthrax letter attacks occurred as a result of some visitor having gained access to anthrax at USAMRIID?
      A. In the FBI investigation, I think they explored that issue, but I’m not aware of any evidence from the deposition or the FBI report, that I’m aware of, that shows that there was any actual threat assessed of visitors to the laboratory. (p 55)

      Anthrax, Ayman and Al Qaeda: The Infiltration of US Biodefense
      http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

    • DXer said

      In the civil deposition produced by DOJ Civil today under FOIA, Dr. Richard Wade, offered as a biosecurity expert, characterized the testimony of other deponents regarding what he described as the lax security at USAMRIID:

      Q. Other than the reports by the Inspector General team and the Sandia National Laboratory, are you aware of any evidence or testimony that support your opinions in this case concerning USAMRIID failing to employ good management practices?

      A. Yes.

      ***

      A. Dr. Jarhling indicated that personal security was informal, that stock control in the laboratories was informal, that they didn’t have written procedures and policies, and that it was done on an informal basis.

      Testimony of Patricia Fellows, who was a research assistant in the lab, indicating that there was a large turnover in the lab; she was there from ’88 to ’92 [editor: she was there to ’02].

      I think she used the term “revolving door” of managers coming in every couple of years and changing, both in the Microbiology Section Chief as well as the Commanding General, and that everything was pretty informal and casual in the laboratory.

      THE WITNESS: — Byrne, Commanding Colonel; he was Chief of Bacteriology from ’89 to 2000, said that things were informal, the lack of written procedures. If there was a problem that occurred, that it would have surfaced because they knew each other very well within his bacteria division, and felt like they were all professionals and knew how to take care of themselves in the department. They didn’t need that type of supervision. Jay Arrison, he was a police officer. He said that Security had very little control over what was going on in the labs. All the vetting of people in the departments was done by the division heads; that the Security people really had no impact upon that. It was all up to the department heads.

      Susan Wilke — Welkos —

      BY MR. TARANTO:

      Q. Welkos.

      A. — Welkos, research assistant in the lab from to ’93 to 2003, ten years, said there was very little continuity from one Division Chief of Bacteriology to the other; there was poor control over stocks, procedures.

      Dr. Fr[ied]lander, Chief Medical, I believe he was ’90 to I believe, until 2003, they had no control over the SIP, which is the immunization program, or the vetting of security of the people.

      There is inadequate, in his mind, control over stocks. That security and research were two separate entities in the laboratory. That the researchers focused on the research and security forced on security issues, and they were two different functions. He did see changes after 2001. So that’s some testimony, as I can recall. (p. 94)

    • DXer said

      Dr. Richard L. Wade, in his civil deposition provided today by DOJ Civil, testified:

      Q. Okay. Are you aware of any lapse in security clearances for anyone else at USAMRIID prior to October of 2001, anybody that you can identify?
      A. By name? Q. By name, by name or by position? A. Well, the report says that there were many,
      numerous, I believe the word was, lapses in security.

      I don’t know the individuals’ names. The report did not identify the individuals.
      Q. The report being the IG report?
      A. Yes.
      Q. Because you cite at paragraph 31 of your Declaration, you cite the IG report in your first bullet, and it says, “Security clearances for” and in their words, “several employees — ”
      A. Correct.
      Q. “– of the U.S. Army Biological Defense Program for anthrax.
      Now, here there are several inviduals, not numerous.
      In terms of the several, do you know whether any of those several worked at USAMRIID versus worked at the other two labs?
      A. I couldn’t tell if they worked in the other labs or not. Otherwise, there were lapses in security and working with anthrax, I’m not sure if the other labs were working with anthrax or not; my presumption was that they were referring to USAMRIID since USAMRIID had a very active anthrax program.

      ***

      Q. Are you aware of any evidence that prior to October 2001, anyone not cleared by Security gained access to the BSL suite in USAMRIID where anthrax stocks were kept?
      A. I can’t say if any one individual gained access or not.

      All I can say is that the two reports that were done, which included this lab, indicated, as well as the depositions of people who worked in the lab, that control of personnel, of vials of materials, of stock materials, of working stock, was very loose and casual and informal.

      ***

      Q. Are you aware of any evidence that prior to October of 2001, that anyone not cleared by personnel
      security, gained access to the BSL-3 suite where anthrax was kept?
      A. What do you mean by personnel security? Of USAMRIID personnel security?
      Q. The DOD and Army’s personnel security for clearances, for issuing clearances, for Secret clearances or higher level or different level?
      A. I believe there is testimony that, and in the reports, indicated a number of people had not — that their security had lapsed, or some of them had not had security clearances, either the Secret, Top Secret or at the National Security Review level, who were working in the labs.

      Q. All right. Does your report contain whatever opinions you are going to give in this case concerning personnel security?
      A. I’m going to testify that given what these reports show, that personnel security, which is one of the hallmarks of laboratory biosecurity, was deficient at this laboratory, and I will go into details of why that’s true.
      (p. 131-134)

      Anthrax, Ayman and Al Qaeda: The Infiltration of US Biodefense
      http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

    • DXer said

      Dr. Richard L. Wade summarized in the face of sometimes robust questioning:

      “It was not in place in 2000, so my position, based upon all this evidence, is that there was a lack of controls, inventory, lack of security of the materials periodically, lack of proper vetting. The Inspector General report said that. The Sandia Lab report said that. The testimony of the individuals, and the position is not going to change on that.”

      Anthrax, Ayman and Al Qaeda: The Infiltration of US Biodefense
      http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

    • DXer said

      Dr. Richard L. Wade, in his deposition produced under FOIA today, testified:

      Q. All right, and do you see any requirement for locking refrigerators and freezers and storage containers that are located within BSL-3 facilities that are themselves secured?

      A. It’s much more specific than that; it gives the accountability of the Commander, and I’ll read it to you.

      “The commander will ensure that the controlled hazardous biological substances working stocks are protected at all times to minimize the potential for their appropriation by unauthorized persons or for unapproved purposes. Protective measures applied to working stocks of CHBS during laboratory processing or active use will be selected in each case so as to be consistent with operational and safety requirements.” (p. 161)

    • DXer said

      Dr. Wade’s testimony continued:

      BY MR. TARANTO:

      Q. Have you reached a conclusion or opinion as to who committed the anthrax letter attacks?
      A. I have not.
      Q. Have you reached an opinion as to whether or not the anthrax letter attacks were carried out by someone who gained unauthorized access to anthrax, versus somebody who had authorized access to anthrax and abused that access?
      A. I rely upon the FBI report, that based upon their scientific and criminal investigation, that they attributed the anthrax in these letters to anthrax which came from this laboratory. (p. 166)

      Anthrax, Ayman and Al Qaeda: The Infiltration of US Biodefense
      http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

    • DXer said

      More from Richard L. Wade deposition:

      Q. Prior to the anthrax letter attacks, were there any recorded events that were known in U.S. history in which pathogens were stolen or smuggled out from the laboratory within the United States, and then used for biological terrorism or an attempt for biological terrorism?
      A. I believe at least one event. There was a malicious application where someone said that they were a researcher from an institute and got Yersinia bacteria, for which they intended to use that as a biological weapon. That was not a physical stealing of it out of a facility. It was a misrepresentation of who they were.
      Q. Right, so they didn’t smuggle it out of containment or penetrate containment, but they falsified —
      A. Who they were.
      Q. — the objective and who they were, and by that means, received it illegitimately? (pp. 193-194)

  6. DXer said

    Among the 50 or so civil depositions and excerpts uploaded now at the USAMRIID Electronic Reading Room, the newest ones are ones I received today from DOJ Civil of Arrison, Hawley and Wade.

    http://mrmc.amedd.army.mil/index.cfm?pageid=foia_reading_room.overview#

    Given that the Hatfill depositions available to me from the court docket tended to just be lengthy excerpts, I have requested from the hardworking US DOJ FOIA the full depositions of:

    Dwight Adams, John Ashcroft, Timothy Beres, Gary Boyd (SAIC), Tom Carey, Edward Cogswell, James Fitzgerald, Bradley Garrett, Van Harp, Steven Hatfill, Roscoe Howard, Kenneth Kohl, Richard Lambert, Robert Mueller, Robert Roth, Daniel Seikaly, Debra Weierman.

    http://www.amerithrax.wordpress.com

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