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

* JAG should produce under FOIA the attached photos of the Ames sent in 1998 to an outside researcher ; the handwriting on the vials was not Bruce Ivins’ handwriting

Posted by DXer on May 9, 2014

It wasn't Ivins


Screen shot 2014-05-09 at 6.59.34 AM

13 Responses to “* JAG should produce under FOIA the attached photos of the Ames sent in 1998 to an outside researcher ; the handwriting on the vials was not Bruce Ivins’ handwriting”

  1. DXer said

    The word redacted in April 8, 2004 3:22 PM email about 1998 transfer of Ames in the first line was “him” .

    • DXer said

      So I’ve formally requested that the name of the facility of the sender by unredacted.

      But it is difficult to mix thanks, appreciation and adoration with threats of litigation in the same paragraph.

    • DXer said

      As cut and pasted, the name of the facility is:

      Chemical Biological Defence Section
      Defence R&D Canada – Suffield
      Box 4000, Medicine Hat, Alberta

      Thanks so much to USMRMC to helping get us on the same page.

  2. DXer said

    USAMRIID has produced a copy of the Ames sent in 1998.

    for side view indicating volume, see also

    Was this the murder weapon? Whose handwriting was this? Bruce Ivins said the handwriting on this Ames sent in 1998 was not his.

    The name of the individual is redacted pursuant to Medcom guidelines pursuant to (b)(6).

    But why is the name of the facility also redacted? What under (b) warrants its redaction? Is the name redacted SRI?

    Redaction is another form of compartmentalization of information and is the death knell of powerful analysis.

  3. DXer said

    The FBI includes a document in the public record that refers to a 1998 transfer of Ames here:

    Click to access USAMRIID%20Section%201.pdf

    Is this it?

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

  4. DXer said

    Was the lab SRI?

  5. DXer said



    (b) (6)
    Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
    FW: Strains sent to you in 1998 Thursday, April 08, 2004 10:40:32 AM
    (b) (6)

    I hope you’re doing well and I’m sorry to bother you, but I just wanted to ask you about the B. anthracis strains we sent you in 1998 – Ames, Buffalo, NH, Vollum, Vollum 1B, VH, 17T5, SK31, ACB, SK61, SK162. I believe I sent them to you frozen, in 1-ml cryovials. Did I by any chance say how they were prepared before shipment? I was interested to know any information I gave you on them. I don’t know if they were already frozen stocks that I sent to you, or if we streaked them on sheep blood agar and made spores from them, then resuspended the spores in glycerol/broth, glycerol/PBS or glycerol/water (or whatever), froze them and sent them to you. If you have any information on that, I’d appreciate your letting me know.

    Have a great spring!

    Bruce Ivins USAMRIID

    • DXer said

      Was the researcher in Canada? Suffield is the Defence Research Establishment Suffield (DRES), i.e. the Canadian Porton, and outside Medicine Hat, Alberta.

      Many years ago I explained that understanding the Canadian study done by DRES researchers is important to understand why the anthrax was sent.

      In mid-January 2001, it was announced that the former boss of al-Hawsawi, the guy with the anthrax spraydrying documents on his laptop, was going to have a bail hearing. His name was Mahjoub. Ayman Zawahiri was #1. Mahjoub was #2. The group was the Egyptian Islamic Jihad but with a cooler name — the Vanguards of Conquest. A letter was received January 30, 2001 at the Citizenship and Immigration Office threatening to use anthrax. It was sent to Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan who had cosigned the detention certificate. Authorities suspected that the letter was sent by militant islamists in protest over the detention of Mahjoub, who ran Bin Laden’s farm in Sudan. Mahjoub had been sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison in 1999 by Egyptian authorities for his involvement in Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Now, he was being detained without charges under an order cosigned by Immigration Minister Caplan and threatened with deportation. The postmark has never been publicly identified. Separately, hoax letters were also sent to American businesses and a Walmart in Saanich, British Columbia. Mahjoub had been in regular contact with a man named Marzouk, who had trained the 1998 embassy bombers and was captured in Baku, Azerbaijan in August 1998.

      When the letter was received in January 2001, the letter was sent by Department of National Defence jet to the Canadian Science Center for Human and Animal Health in Winnipeg for examination. Authorities also sent the filters from the Jean Edmonds building’s ventilation system. Authorities said they were treating it as a possible terrorist act against the department and noted that it “was the first time a government department has been targeted in this way.” The Ottawa alert came after one of the employees working in the Minister’s office opened a plain white envelope at 11:15 a.m. The employee discovered powder and a piece of paper in the envelope. Police refused to reveal from where it had been mailed. One source said the letter was unsigned and “mostly gibberish.” (Indeed, the Fall 2001 letters might be described as mostly gibberish, and certainly the “JLo letter” — talking about Jennifer Lopez’ planned wedding — could be.) An internal government memo distributed to staff said “an initial analysis of the envelope revealed some traces of bacteria.”

      Bill Patrick, who often worked with George Mason University students in northern Virginia, had written a report in 1999 for a consultant SAIC at the request of Dr. Steve Hatfill. As one bioterrorism expert commented about the report: “Anytime you pick something up like this, and it seems to layout the whole story for you months or years before the fact, your immediate response is to step back and say ‘whoa, something may be going on here. “Our attacker may very well have used this report as something of a — if not a template, then certainly as a rule of thumb.”

      After the January 2001 anthrax threat, Canadian defense research team undertook to assess the risk. The report titled “Risk Assessment of Anthrax Threat Letters” issued September 2001. In contrast to the 1998 study by William Patrick that had been requested by Dr. Hatfill’s employer SAIC, the Canadian study found considerable exposure to those in the room resulted when such a letter was opened. Bacillus globigii spores (in dry powder form) were donated by the US Department of Defense (Dugway Proving Ground, Utah). Stock concentration powder was -1 x 10 11 cfu/gm. The anthrax sent to the Senators had a smaller particle size –tending toward a uniform 1 micron, subject to clumping that easily broke apart. Bacillus globigii (BG) spores are routinely used as a simulant for Bacillus anthracis (anthrax) spores. “The letter was prepared by putting BG spores in the center of a sheet of paper, folding it over into thirds, placing the folded sheet into the envelope and sealing using the adhesive present on the envelope. The envelope was then shaken to mimic the handling and tumbling that would occur during its passage through the postal system.” The aerosol, produced by opening the BG spore containing envelope, was not confined to the area of the desk but spread throughout the chamber. Values were almost as high at the opposite end of the chamber, shortly after opening the envelopes. 99% of the particles collected were in the 2.5 to 10 mm size range. The report explained: “In addition, the aerosol would quickly spread throughout the room so that other workers, depending on their exact locations and the directional air flow within the office, would likely inhale lethal doses. Envelopes with the open corners not specifically sealed could also pose a threat to individuals in the mail handling system.”

      More than 80% of the B anthracis particles collected on stationary monitors were within an alveolar respirable size range of 0.95 to 3.5 µm. Thus, the simulant performed very well. Those who continue to argue that the Daschle product was so advanced beyond what the US could do are mistaken. Indeed, the more notable question is why such a good product was prepared in response to a threat letter sent to an immigration minister. The reason perhaps is that authorities knew that it was Al Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad that sent the letter. The CIA and CSIS apparently feared that the Vanguards of Conquest would use the good stuff.

      The CIA knew EIJ intended to use anthrax — from the proclamations of Jaballah’s friend, the captured military commander Mabruk and Jaballah’s brother-in-law’s former law partner al-Zayat. Authorities knew Al Qaeda was getting technical assistance from scientists — and that many of the senior Egyptian leaders had advanced or technical degrees. The specifications provided by Dugway perhaps involved treated fumed silica and a spraydryer (with a last critical step reserved to be done at Dugway) likely were based on what Al Qaeda might send with a little help from their friends.

      Canadian officials explained they e-mailed the study to the CDC soon after reports of the discovery of anthrax at the American Media Inc. headquarters in Florida. The e-mail, however, was never opened, reports the lead CDC anthrax investigator, who regrets that he never read the email. “It is certainly relevant data, but I don’t think it would have altered the decisions that we made.” At one point, about 2,000 CDC employees were working on the anthrax matter. This Canadian report was perhaps the single most important scientific data point for the CDC to take into account. It certainly was one of the most important reports for the FBI to take into account. Yet I dare anyone to ask US Attorney Jeffrey Taylor if he has ever read it. Bail was denied by decision on October 5, 2001. Then highly potent anthrax was sent the next day just as had been promised. But Ayman had returned to the target of his greatest interest — rather than a Canadian immigration minister, he and Shehata and their colleagues targeted the minister who oversaw the Department of Justice and appropriations to Egypt and Israel, and who gave his name (”the Leahy Law”) to the law that permits continuing appropriations to Egypt in the face of allegations of torture. Zawahiri never makes a threat he doesn’t intend to try to keep.

      The Canadian experiments in 2001 showed that if anthrax spores were finely powdered, a letter could release thousands of lethal doses of the bacteria within minutes of being opened. Furthermore, large amounts of material leaked out of sealed envelopes even before they were opened. By then, more than two dozen federal government employees knew of the Canadian studies, which showed that a real anthrax threat letter was a far more dangerous weapon than anyone had believed. Within days, a dozen more people were informed of the now highly relevant experimental findings. One FBI squad was focused on people who may have known of the study — such as William Patrick’s friend, Dr. Steve Hatfill. Another squad would be focused on the usual suspects and their friends. For the next seven years, the investigation would be shrouded in great secrecy.

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

    • DXer said

      I asked my friend, an oft-quoted Rutgers microbiologist,

      “could the mailed anthrax have been grown from frozen stock with 4 morphs?”

      He replied:

      “Frozen or not, the results probably would be the same.”

    • DXer said

      Another oft-quoted Amerithrax expert, of equal scientific renown, is skeptical that it would be either Porton Down or Suffield.

      “Peter got his Ames cultures from USAMRIID in the early ‘90s, and I suspect that Suffield was the same. The latter was not hyperactive though it did outstanding work, e.g., Bill K’s spore flying in the spring of ’01.”

      USAMRIID should relax its interpretation of (b)(6) and not redact the names of emails.

      Unredacted production of such names has been the norm now for a long time, in productions by both DOJ Civil and USAMRIID.

      Which brings us to the $25 million dollar question:

      Who was supplied virulent Ames in1998 under circumstances where Dr. Ivins did not recall the details of its preparation and parentage? Where it was mailed by one of Dr. Ivins’ assistants or one of his colleagues?

      We cannot learn from the civil depositions of Dr. Ivins’ assistants because DOJ Civil refuses to provide them — and they apparently were shredded.

    • DXer said

      The FBI includes a document in the public record that refers to a 1998 transfer of Ames to a visiting foreign scientist from Egypt and the Sudan here:

      Click to access USAMRIID%20Section%201.pdf

      More recently, he was at University of Michigan. He visited USAMRIID and worked alongside Bruce, Pat, Mara in the B3.

      The particular publication provided by the FBI refers to Bruce Ivins providing Ames and Vollum 1 B.

      Is this it? Was the 1998 transfer of the Ames of unknown parentage referenced above a supply of Ames to the former Zawahiri associate?

      And is there any reason to doubt that it had four morphs? see also inventory of strains uploaded yesterday by USAMRIID.

      Didn’t Pat or Mara just take a smidgeon from Flask 1029 and grow additional stock needed by the researcher with whom they were collaborating?

      Dr. Ivins had not known he was not a citizen but then approval came after his arrival by email.

      Who in Command in 1998 authorized the supply of virulent Ames to a visiting foreign scientist without a security check?

      GAO, was there an EA 101 completed for this supply of Ames?

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

  6. DXer said

    The researcher was someone Bruce apparently saw at international anthrax meetings.

    Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
    FW: FW: Strains sent to you in 1998 Thursday, April 08, 2004 3:28:19 PM
    (b) (6)

    Never mind!! I see you’ve sent the pictures to me!! Thanks much! I hope to see you at the International Anthrax meeting next year. I think it will be in the Southwestern US.
    – Bruce
    Bruce Ivins USAMRIID

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
    Sent: Thursday, April 08, 2004 3:25 PM
    To: Subject: RE:
    FW: Strains sent to you in 1998

    were all of the vials similar with respect to 1) the type of cryovial; and 2) the handwriting? Sorry to bother you, but I’m just trying to identify the particular parentage of the material we sent you. I don’t need pictures, but if someone could just look at some of the other vials, it would be very helpful. Thanks again!!!

    – Bruce
    Bruce Ivins USAMRIID

    Dr. Tarek Hamouda, who worked alongside Patricia Fellows and Mara Linscott and Bruce Ivins in the B3 in 1998, thanked Bruce Ivins for supplying virulent Ames in a published article and numerous patents. Dr. Hamouda presented his findings on that research at some 1998 and 1999 conferences. Dr. Hamouda would not discuss his research with me. (I had contacted him years ago to ask what former Egyptian Islamic Jihad members we knew in common from his days in Cairo and the Sudan). University of Michigan did not produce any documents pursuant to my FOIA request directed to it. And Dr. Hamouda’s colleague, when I called him, said “you don’t want to know.”

    This article by the UM researchers was the only peer-reviewed article that the FBI produced in production of documents relating to Amerithrax.

    Were these pictures of vials sent to the UM researchers?

    A Novel Surfactant Nanoemulsion with Broad-Spectrum Sporicidal Activity against BacillusSpecies

    Presented in part: 98th general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, Atlanta, May 1998 (poster A49); 38th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, San Diego, September 1998 (late-breaker slide session II, LB-9); 99th general meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, Chicago, May 1999 (poster A300).

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

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