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

* GAO expects to issue its report on the FBI anthrax investigation in the “later part of the summer or early fall”

Posted by DXer on August 18, 2014

When does summer end? Most people would say in another two weeks or so. When will GAO issue its report? … Summer has already become “maybe early fall.” … Will that soon become “late fall or winter?” … Which will eventually become “never?” I would love to be surprised.


By the way, my view has not changed. The FBI’s case against Dr. Ivins is clearly bogus: no evidence, no witnesses, an impossible timeline. The real questions are why the FBI persists in sticking to such a pathetic story and why it is taking GAO so long to issue its report?


DXer’s recent comment deserves more prominent placement … “The most pertinent science offered up so far tends to be exculpatory of Dr. Bruce Ivins and directly contradicts the prosecutor’s meme of Flask 1029 as the ‘murder weapon.’ But, hey, why let peer-reviewed science interfere with a prejudicial slogan in spinning the dead suspect’s guilt?”


It wasn't Ivins!


some time before the summer … 

Mr. Weinstein …  Thank you for your email. The work is underway and we expect to issue a report sometime this summer. … Chuck Young Chuck Young, Managing Director, Public Affairs, Government Accountability Office (GAO) …

My email to GAO (6/23/14) …

GAO … Some months ago you wrote to me that your report on the FBI investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks would be issued sometime this summer. Now that summer is here, do you have an update on when the report might be forthcoming? … LEW WEINSTEIN

GAO’s response (6/27/14) …

Lew … We expect it will be the later part of the summer or early fall … Chuck Young, Managing Director, Public Affairs, Government Accountability Office (GAO)


92 Responses to “* GAO expects to issue its report on the FBI anthrax investigation in the “later part of the summer or early fall””

  1. DXer said

    Current FBI disagrees with earlier FBI investigators in Amerithrax — just as they do in the Isabella Gardner heist.

    Here is a new article on the subject of the heist.

    The Gardner Museum Art Thieves, Unmasked at Last?
    By Alexander Boyle | August 2014

    I am looking forward to a book by veteran journalist Stephen Kurkjian on the subject of the heist.

    I have always hoped for confirmation that the FBI brought ground penetrating radar (or digging equipment) to check the cement slab pictured here at Robert Guarente’s former residence — even the soft ground of the barn. Bobby Guarente’s friend from Connecticut was in the cement slab laying business in 1992 at the time of his visit to Maine and his conduct of some stolen painting related business.

    All the talk by the former FBI Agent Wittman about disposition to French well-to-do reminded me of the recently passed Maybelline heiress. i regularly would paddle by the Monet she kept on her canal boat — just yards from where my canoe was stolen.

    If you think I’m dogged when someone else’s art is stolen, wait until you see what happens when my canoe is stolen.

  2. DXer said

    One scientific method used was computer forensics of his computers. The FBI’s computer forensic reports have not been disclosed and should be reviewed by the GAO. I think it was the most important method — for example, if AUSA Lieber had focused on Dr. Ivins’ email she would have learned and known about Dr. Ivins’ experiment with the 52 rabbits in the first week of October 2001.

    The document analysis that would have been useful would be a chronology showing Dr. ivies’ location from September 11 – October 9, 2001.

    That could have been compiled from

    1) purchases made by his credit cards,

    1B4345 described as photocopies of ID cards & credit cards. This document had a copy of BRUCE IVINS’ drivers license; a government issued credit card; a Visa card from Farmers and Mechanics Bank, card number~I__~~______________~I~a~n~d~a Visa card issued by TJX Bank, card numberI I,

    2) the dates and times of his use of computers, including particular websites. For example, would AOL, Amazon, Washington Post, Ebay and other websites have the dates that he signed in? His AOL screen name was KingBadger7 and his password was Datsun. His Baltimore Sun screen name was KingBadger7. His password was docsivi54. There is a long list of his screen names and passwords listed here.

    Click to access 847545.pdf

    “1B4346 described as piece of paper with usernames. This document listed the usernames and passwords for the following web sites: ASM, ABC, AOL, Amazon, Army Knowledge, Crossnet, ABC News, Real Player, MCRDP, ASM Journals, USUHS Library (this line was difficult to read), Washington Post, Anti-terrorism training, Baltimore Sun, Blue Cross, F&M, Distance Learning, voicemail, MSN, Roxio, Yahoo, AIMS, Ebay, and PayPal.”

    The FBI did not even disclose his personal emails to his lab assistants written on his computers, even though they are producible under FOIA.

    If on a particular day, you find an individual watching viral cat videos, you know he was not somewhere else making deadly letters to send in the mail.

    Instead of concrete document analysis of how he spent his time, the FBI marketed a lengthy report by psychiatrists that relied on a woman who says she was receiving her instructions from an alien each night. Jennifer Smith (former FBI, CIA agent scientist) says that the FBI does not rely on psychics but that is not true. That is exactly what the investigators and prosecutors did in Amerithrax without realizing it.

    DOJ has successfully avoided deposition of Amerithrax consultant Gregory Saathoff who extensively and uncritically relied on the Ivins’ accuser who claims she was granted her psychic abilities by an alien from another planet

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 13, 2011

    the material on the CASE CLOSED blog about Judith McLean (see prior posts linked below) is relevant to an evaluation of the validity of David Willman’s conclusions in his recently published “The Mirage Man” … because Willman himself, in his publicity blurb (see below), shows just how much he relied on the psychic who says … she was granted her abilities by an extraterrestrial being … got sick in 2001 from doing astral recovery work at Ground Zero and in Afghanistan after 9/11 … and was pursued by nasty Taliban entities

    Posted on June 12, 2011’s-conclusions-in-his-recently-published-“the-mirage-man”-because/

    In addition to helping the FBI with Amerithrax, the psychic relied upon by David Willman helped with 911 by her astral travelling and retrieval of etheric body parts at Ground Zero … She reports she was granted her psychic abilities by a being claiming to be an extraterrestial

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 11, 2011

    • DXer said

      The chronology should include information gleaned from receipts of purchases made by the credit cards. For example, the FBI obtained the actual receipts of Walmart purchases. I expect businesses are required to keep records for tax purposes — at the time of the FBI’s inquiries, there is no reason to think that the business would have thrown its records out.

  3. DXer said

    The most pertinent science offered up so far tends to be exculpatory of Dr. Bruce Ivins and directly contradicts the prosecutor’s meme of Flask 1029 as the “murder weapon.”

    But, hey, why let peer-reviewed science interfere with a prejudicial slogan in spinning the dead suspect’s guilt?

    Additional Forensic Investigation of 2001 Anthrax Attacks

    By Amesh A. Adalja, MD, FACP, May 25, 2012

    As expected, the FBI investigators did find that anthrax spores taken directly from RMR-1029 contained both meglumine and diatrizoate. However, no evidence of these compounds was found when the spores from the anthrax letters were analyzed using the same method.1

    Source of Attack Material?

    The major implication of this study, as the authors note, is “that the evidentiary spore material was not diverted directly from RMR-1029.”1

  4. DXer said

    “Of course (Holt) wants it to be comprehensive and not rushed in any way,” Goldberg said. “The important thing is that the questions get addressed.”

    • Lew Weinstein said

      and how long does that take?

    • DXer said

      Lew, given Yazid Sufaat does not deny to me that he was working with virulent Ames, I would not begrudge GAO for engaging in a “more thorough scientific review” urged by the NAS.

      From NAS report:

      “At the end of the study, the committee was provided limited information for the first time about the analysis of environmental samples for B. anthracis Ames from an undisclosed overseas site at which a terrorist group’s anthrax program was allegedly located. This site was investigated by the FBI and other federal partners as part of the anthrax letters investigation. The information indicates that there was inconsistent evidence of Ames strain DNA in some of these samples, but no culturable B. anthracis. The committee believes that the complete set of data and conclusions concerning these samples, including all classified documents deserves a more scientific review.”

      Note that on the lyophililzer that the US Attorney claimed was used, not only was no culturable B. anthraces found, but there was no DNA evidence of Ames anthrax such as there was in Yazid Sufaat’s laboratory.

  5. DXer said

    An ominous post-9/11 warning
    Americans are less safe now than they were prior to Sept. 11

    “It’s true that some jihadi groups are focused on local wars, but many, if not most “have the intention to attack Western interests, to include Western embassies and in some cases Western countries,” Gen. Flynn said. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, self-declared “caliph” of the Islamic State, has directly threatened Americans. Some of his warriors have Western passports. That will make it easier for them to enter Europe and the United States at a time of their choosing.”

    Read more:

    • DXer said


      “Think, too, about the fact that those who postpone blowing themselves up are developing new and improved martial skills. “They write about and share ‘Lessons Learned’ all the time,” Gen. Flynn said. He recalled that not long after Sept. 11, 2001, anthrax was used in an act of terrorism that killed five people. “If that anthrax had been dispersed more efficiently,” he said, “it could have killed a quarter-million people.” Also worth bearing in mind: Just eight years separates the first attack on New York’s World Trade Center in 1993, in which six people were killed, from the 2001 mass murders.”

      Read more:
      Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

  6. DXer said

    USAMRIID has refused to provide the documents indicating where it sent virulent Ames prior to 9/11.

    Similarly, USAMRIID has refused to disclose the documents about the work did by the FBI scientist, Dr. Ezzell working at USAMRIID, making a dried aerosol out of Ames from Flask 1029. (It was his lab that threw out Dr. Ivins’ sample).

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

    There is no government accountability or transparency.

    “Accountable and transparent government does not involve instructing agencies to send politically sensitive records to the White House for review,” Cause of Action Executive Director Dan Epstein said. “The bureaucracy has violated the law by stonewalling the public’s access to documents for political reasons. Cause of Action’s own investigation reveals that the White House is actually demanding access from agencies to Freedom of Information Act requests and congressional document requests, as well as the documents subject to those requests, in a manner that may obstruct congressional oversight and violate the spirit of FOIA.”

    The departments named as defendants are Homeland Security, Justice, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, State, Veterans Affairs, Defense, Health and Human Services, Energy and Treasury.

    OMB declined to comment on litigation. But Cause of Action posted a 2009 memo from then-White House Counsel Greg Craig reminding agencies that all FOIA requests involving the undefined “White House equities” should come through his office well before the deadline for responding.

    Amy Bennett, assistant director of the nonprofit coalition, told Government Executive the suit shows promise.

    “All administrations have claimed White House equities, so this is not something that is unique to the Obama White House,” she said. But “courts are really the most effective body that enforces FOIA. Hopefully the Cause of Action lawsuit can help bring some transparency to how the policy plays out in practice, and what effect it has on the public’s ability to understand what the government is doing and why,” she said. “If it turns out that the White House’s policy is improperly stopping the release of records or adding time onto the already lengthy waits that requesters face, we hope Congress will step in.”

    • DXer said

      DC Court Rules Officials Must Turn Over Personal Emails In FOIA Requests
      1:44 PM 07/30/2014

      Read more:

      The D.C. Superior Court has ruled that city officials engaging in business on personal email accounts to circumvent government transparency must surrender those emails in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.


      Bruce played a lot of online scrabble with Mara during lunch breaks. In his emails on his personal account, on emails still being withheld, he discussed the supply of Ames to Tarek. If GAO did not obtain the documents, then it is like the newly discovered toothless flying dinosaur Dragon Pterosaurs which went extinct 90m years ago.

    • Lew Weinstein said

      If other agencies are refusing to provide information, then GAO should be saying that. Their silence for over two years now is very frustrating.

      • DXer said

        “USAMRIID has refused to provide the documents indicating where it sent virulent Ames prior to 9/11.

        Similarly, USAMRIID has refused to disclose the documents about the work did by the FBI scientist, Dr. Ezzell working at USAMRIID, making a dried aerosol out of Ames from Flask 1029. (It was his lab that threw out Dr. Ivins’ sample).”

        By the above, I meant that USAMRIID is refusing to provide the enclosures to the subpoena response — identifying the labs that were shipped virulent Ames prior to 9/11 — to me. … under FOIA. The 20 labs have never been named.

        USAMRIID refused the request in 2008 and 2009 — which was the sole reason the Ivins Theory was not abandoned in the first place. AUSA Kohl was free to turn to screw up Blackwater (see federal district court opinion) only because of that withholding.

        You can blame the last half decade of wasted time on USAMRIID and the FBI, not GAO.

        When the request was denied in 2008 /2009, there was a still open criminal investigation and denial was proper and required.

        Perhaps you could do a global search for the word “wonderful USAMRIID FOIA” and change it to USAMRIID FOIA.

        Specifically, it’s the Army lawyer’s fault for not understanding things.

        Internal Army emails relating to the withholding of the IG report tell a similar tale — where withholding was not justified but then McClatchy was denied the IG report until I published the internal emails among the senior Army FOIA people. Army launched an investigation in order to intimidate me, according to emails.

        But the Cause of Action lawsuit is needed to probe the exchanges that result in information that is so central to the public’s understanding. Information often is withheld just to withhold embarrassing information.

        While you are deleting the word “wonderful” as used in association with USAMRIID, perhaps you could insert the same word before GAO, wherever it appears.

        As a matter of procedure, GAO does not have authority to release documents under FOIA — FOIA calls are made by the originating agency. So the buck stops with USAMRIID and USAMRMC and Army.

        • Lew Weinstein said

          Nobody is wonderful in this disgraceful episode … except maybe us for our relentless pursuit of the truth.

        • DXer said

          The FOIA officer has asked JAG to reconsider. So she’s still wonderful — the marriage proposal is still open. But the JAG lawyers aren’t invited.

          Growing number of biosafety labs raises public health concern
          Number of facilities has grown since 2001 anthrax attacks
          By James Arkin
          Since the 2001 anthrax letter attacks that killed five people and raised the specter of bioterrorism in the United States, the number of high-level biosafety labs operated by governments, universities and others to study potentially lethal pathogens has been expanding rapidly. According to a 2013 report to Congress, the number of these labs grew by almost 10 percent, from 1,362 to 1,495, between 2008 and 2010 alone.


          5 people were killed by a lab that had virulent Ames. USAMRIID sent it out to numerous labs —and even supplied virulent Ames to foreign national at a university who had been taught by Dr. Ayman Zawahiri’s sister — without regard to complying with procedure requiring a national security vetting. USAMRIID then lawyered up for 14 years — even long after the criminal investigation was closed — and refused to identify the labs to which the Ames had been supplied. Specifically, it refused to produce the documents under FOIA that identified those labs.

          The USAMRIID scientist who made a dried aerosol out of the genetically matching virulent Ames threw out the sample submitted by the suspect, Bruce Ivins, who later committed suicide. The scientist threw it out in his capacity of an expert working for the FBI. The destruction of that evidence then incredibly was used as evidence of Ivins’ guilt, rather than the FBI’s destruction of evidence and an acute conflict of interest.

          Most scientists and commentators and the public in polls do not think the man blamed by the FBI, Ivins, was responsible. Neither do I. I don’t think anyone at USAMRIID was involved or complicitous — although Pat Fellows and Mara Linscott certainly have some explaining to do. But JAG’s withholding has let the case go unsolved for another half decade.

          If lawyers are going to mess up the accountable handling of pathogens — when they are the ones that allowed the wily nily distribution in the first place — the toys should be taken away.

          In government circles, it is all about money and CYA, never transparency and accountability and seeing justice done for the man driven to suicide.

          (USAMRIID FOIA, for example, has written that they don’t care that GAO doesn’t have all of the emails.)

          The criminal case was closed in February 2010. Although it was correct for JAG to direct the withholding in 2008 and 2009, it is wrong to withhold them now.

          Besides, it is foolish to withhold documents that another party already has — it just sets up USAMRIID for being the fall guy and blamed for a matter that the FBI investigators and prosecutors screwed up.

          In one fell swoop, JAG risks shifting the heat of the forthcoming GAO report from the prosecutors and Amerithrax investigators to the JAG lawyer(s) playing hide-the-ball.

          Some General needs to call JAG and ask that they cooperate.

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

  7. richard rowley said

    This somewhat recalls some Soviet Georgian movie* I saw in the 1980s: it centered on a (Tbilisi?) publishing house and the efforts to get something published. The seasons change during the film, the highly bureaucratic publishing house remains uneager to get anything done………..A very funny film, especially if you’ve dealt with bureaucracies.

    But for some this Amerithrax reexamination may remind of ‘Waiting for Godot’………..

    *A twin title: “Tien Shan or The Blue Mountains”.

  8. DXer said

    House lawmakers ask GAO to investigate federal lab safety

    Read more:

    Top Democrats and Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to Gene Dodaro, comptroller general at the GAO, on Thursday to report back on what protocols federal agencies have in place to prevent safety breaches and what are they doing to improve them.

    “GAO has previously reported on several issues associated with the biosafety and biosecurity of federal laboratories that handle pathogens and on risks posed by past incidents,” said the lawmakers. “In light of ongoing biosafety and biosecurity lapses at federal laboratories, we request that GAO continue its work in this area.”
    Specifically the lawmakers are asking the GAO to investigate what policies and procedures federal agencies have in place to manage pathogens, and what they are doing to improve them.

    The lawmakers also want to know how the agencies evaluate their own safety policies.

    The letter was signed by Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Joe Pitts (R- Pa.) and Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.).

    July 31, 2014 letter to GAO

    Click to access 20140731GAO.pdf

  9. DXer said

    U.S. House panel requests probe of federal labs,0,7990889.story

    4:51 p.m. EDT, July 31, 2014

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. congressional committee investigating the mishandling of anthrax at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked a federal watchdog agency on Thursday to review U.S. lab procedures for handling dangerous pathogens.

    In a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the House Energy and Commerce Committee called for GAO to provide details about current federal lab policies and procedures and guidance on whether agencies that run biosecurity labs have undertaken efforts to assess and improve their practices.


    The GAO oversight in the past five years has not even resulted in disclosure of all 20 of the labs that the FBI know had virulent Ames pre-911, let alone those labs had the x101 and x102 plasmids and avirulent Ames that combined could have been used in the Fall 2001 mailing.

    The GAO has no teeth and faced with an agency such as the FBI unwilling or slow to make disclosures — and seemingly institutionally incapable of revisiting past mistakes — can only use jawboning as the years pass.

    Meanwhile, Dr. Ivins is still dead and Al Qaeda still wants to kill New Yorkers in a mass attack that would end life in the United States as we know it.

    This is not a time to brook a delay in producing requested documents. Or not to request all relevant documents.

  10. DXer said

    Excerpt from today’s blog at

    “Question #1: What does the FBI Lab scandal have to do with National Whistleblower Appreciation Day?

    July 30th was declared “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day” by the U.S. Senate in a unanimous resolution last year. And, of course, there was a whistleblower at the FBI Lab whose revelations in the 1990’s set off the series of events known as the FBI Lab scandal and the subsequent reviews and cover-ups by the Justice Department.

    Not only did Dr. Frederic Whitehurst blow the whistle on serious misconduct and flawed evidence while he worked at the FBI Lab in the 1990’s, he continued to hold the FBI and Justice Department accountable by obtaining under the Freedom of Information Act documents from the DOJ’s flawed review of the FBI Lab scandal. It was Dr. Whitehurst’s FOIA documents and persistence that eventually led to the Washington Post series in April of 2012.

    So it is fitting that the latest Washington Post article on the FBI Lab scandal was published on July 30th, National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.”

  11. DXer said

    Click to access 20140728NIHLabSafetyLetter.pdf

    “Did the NIH ever conduct an inventory check accounting for all select agents on the NIH campus after 9/11 and the anthrax mailings? If not, why not? If so, were the FDA labs in Building 29A included? If the FDA labs were not included, why not?”


    Famed Russian bioweaponeer Ken Alibek told me in in a telephone conversation in 2003 that his Hadron researchers at GMU’s Center for Biodefense researchers got their Delta Ames from NIH. A DTIC database confirms that but I will have to pull the report. The report identifies the researcher who, as I recall, received his degree in Israel but I don’t recall his name offhand, 10 years later.

    A whistleblower told me that Ali Al-Timimi had unfettered access to the ATCC repository, the largest in the world, that shared facilities with GMU. The scientist who has spun the science so mightily to point to Ivins was the collection scientist in charge or the bacteria at ATCC.

    Ken Alibek shared a suite with Ali Al-Timimi who was coordinating with 911 imam Anwar Awlaki. Al-Timimi had a security clearance while working at SRA for the Navy.

    All of the good stuff that would help shed light on the uncertainties inherent in determining the distribution of virulent Ames prior to 911 is classified. Even if it wasn’t, the FBI only is going to provide the documents it wants to provide. Right, GAO? Hasn’t that been your experience too?

    GAO, the Big Dogs are available to help you get the documents you need.

    I have two outstanding requests for the iG inspection of Aberdeen and Dugway. The requests were just ignored.

    Similarly, I asked for the shipments of anthrax by USAMRIID prior to 9/11 and was told that maybe they weren’t kept. (IMO, the unnamed reviewing SJA attorney knows full well that the documents provided was not responsive and had ready access to the requested documents) through DA. The hardworking and wonderful FOIA personnel are left to serve as fall guys.

    With respect to dried powder work involving Ames done by the FBI’s expert, JE — whose lab was collecting and threw out Ivins’ sample — I was given a document relating to dried powder work from July 1997 instead of the report on his research done in August 2000 upon a withdrawal from Flask 1029.

    In my opinion, Amerithrax represents one of the greatest failures in counterintelligence analysis in the history of the United States. Management failed to resolve the numerous critical conflicts of interest that existed.

    Even a decade later, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

    Because Al Qaeda still wants to kill us in a mass event. So how much money you make next year is simply not the priority.

    • DXer said review stalled after finding forensic errors by FBI lab unit spanned two decades

      “Nearly every criminal case reviewed by the FBI and the Justice Department as part of a massive investigation started in 2012 of problems at the FBI lab has included flawed forensic testimony from the agency, government officials said.”


      The former lead lab person for the FBI, Randall Murch, tells me he doesn’t want Amerithrax reopened. And he won’t provide me his power points from Croatia.

      These forensic scientists need to be less focused on making money and winning multimillion dollar grants and more focused on ensuring justice is done — even if it involves correcting past missteps.

      Everyone can agree that investigators and forensic scientists don’t have an easy job — and that scientific standards are improving in many areas.

      In the case of microbial forensics, it doesn’t make any grant money to point out the inherent flaws in trusting that a perp will send in a sample of virulent anthrax that he very likely covertly obtained.

      But openness to correcting mistakes is not difficult — it just takes a commitment to justice and a forthright approach and transparency in sharing documents.

  12. DXer said

    Handling of deadly pathogens to get wider look by House committee

    By Steven Ross Johnson
    Posted: July 28, 2014

    Members of a congressional committee said Monday that they planned to expand their investigation into recent incidents involving safety mishaps at government biosecurity laboratories.

    Republican lawmakers from the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Disease Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration (PDF) and the National Institutes of Health (PDF), requesting additional information surrounding the mishandling of a number of dangerous pathogens.

    In Amerithrax, the genetics evidence was greatly overblown and served as the foundation of the prosecutor’s dog and pony show at the August 8, 2008 press conference. When understood to have also been stored in 1412, the genetics analysis had merely narrowed the field of those KNOWN to have access from 1000 to up to 300, and that was just at Ft. Detrick. Moreover, it was easy to have access to virulent Ames without it being known — as the recent CDC incident illustrates.

    Anthrax, Al Qaeda and Ayman Zawahiri


    A local story based on Columbo-worthy interviewing by a reporter is shaping up to be a Pulitzer Prize-winning story of wrongful conviction.

    24 years for a crime he didn’t commit based on two jailhouse informants and no forensic evidence. The mind boggles.

    Heidi Allen was exposed as confidential drug informant on card cop lost before teen was kidnapped

  13. DXer said

    U.S. CDC says to announce safety advisory panel by end of week
    CHICAGO Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:52pm EDT

    (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will announce its safety advisory panel later this week following breaches in its handling of anthrax and a deadly form of bird flu in recent weeks, the director of the agency said on Tuesday.


    Speaking to reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, Frieden said invitations for the panel were issued on Friday and should be accepted in the next day or so.

    Advisors will serve under the rules of Federal Advisory Committee Act, which governs the operation of federal advisory panels, stressing open meetings, chartering, public involvement, and reporting. In addition, none of the members will have ever worked at the CDC, Frieden said.

    “It’s as independent as we can get,” Frieden told reporters.

  14. DXer said

    Opinion: Lab Safety Lapses Tell Larger Story
    Recent security issues within US government labs reveal deficiencies in biorisk management programs.
    By Ryan N. Burnette and Jonathan Y. Richmond | July 22, 2014

    What lessons can we learn from these recent incidents at the CDC and NIH? The good news is that no human exposure to smallpox has been reported. The bad news is that all three incidents put the public at risk. It is the central dogma of biosecurity to always know where, in what form, and in what quantity potentially hazardous agents are stored. The primary lesson learned in all these cases is the importance of robust biosafety and biosecurity management programs in protecting lab workers and researchers, animal populations, and the public from serious harm.

    To address these issues, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing, the outcome of which was increased scrutiny on laboratories working with high-risk pathogens, such as Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) and BSL4 facilities. At this time, there is no clear indication that this increased level of scrutiny will stop at federal labs. Private institutions that receive federal research funding and oversee these laboratories, many of which are regulated through the National Select Agent Registry, are the likely next targets of inspection. Right now, all laboratories should be asking themselves how and when this additional scrutiny will affect their programs. There are no “ifs.”

    In addition to likely regulatory and process changes, the exposure of headline risk poses a public relations challenge. If the nation’s federal labs are in questionable shape, the public will immediately to question the safety of the laboratories in their neighboring universities and research institutions, asking the very real question, “How safe are they?” Institutional biosafety officers, directors of environmental health and safety programs, and heads of research programs should capitalize on this increased attention. Inventory management, exposure control, incident response, emergency response, occupational health, medical surveillance, and universal precaution policies should be dusted off, reworked, and re-energized. These are the fundamentals of biorisk management, and the tried and true method for creating public safety and public trust.

    In summary, the increased scrutiny that will result from the latest biosecurity failings can be good news for health and safety programs, as it will serve to drive risk mitigation across the country. While we can all agree that scrutiny is not an ideal form of attention, it is attention nonetheless, and any attention is good for the long-term health of biorisk management programs. The safer they are, the safer we all are.

    Ryan Burnette is the vice president of WCG Biosafety, a division of the WIRB-Copernicus Group, and author of Biosecurity: Understanding, Assessing and Preventing the Threat. Jonathan Richmond is an expert consultant to WCG Biosafety. He is the former director of the CDC Office of Safety, Health and Environment and former chief of the Safety Operations Section for the NIH’s Division of Occupational Health and Safety.

  15. DXer said

    Between the Lines: William T. Vollmann on ‘Last Stories’
    By Allen Pierleoni
    Published: Monday, Jul. 21, 2014

    Read more here:

    “Thoreau always said that it’s important not to let our knowledge get in the way of what’s more important, which is our ignorance. I want to always keep my ignorance so I can be open to what people are saying.”

    Last year, he wrote a piece for Harper’s that told the chilling story of what he found in his FBI file after obtaining part of it via the Freedom of Information Act. He discovered that the FBI suspected him of being the Unabomber. Then, after Ted Kaczynski was arrested in 1996 for mailing bombs that killed and maimed people, the FBI considered Vollmann a suspect in the 2001 anthrax-by-mail attacks. The key suspect in that case took his own life in 2008.

    Vollman wrote in the Harper’s piece, “I was accused, secretly. I was spied on. I have no redress. To be sure, I am not a victim; my worries are not for me, but for the American Way of Life.”


    I may have lived with Mr. Vollmann in the same building on the street that serves as the border of Berkeley and Oakland in August 1982. I think Alcatraz was the name. I was commuting on BART to San Francisco and enjoying sunshine in the hills around Berkeley when I played hooky. Mr. Vollmann had attended Berkeley for a year after Cornell but then stopped school. “In 1982, the young William Vollmann worked odd jobs, including as a secretary at an insurance company, until he’d saved up enough money to go to Afghanistan, where he wanted to join the mujahedeen to fight the Soviets.” The fellow at the end of the summer had just come back from Afghanistan where he had taken photographs among the mujahedeen. (The fellow had a vicious stomach bug and was laid up so I seriously doubt I ever met him for more than a brief moment, if at all; he was on one end of the hallway and I was on the other). I think I looked at the book Mr. Vollmann did on Afghanistan, Afghanistan Picture Show, but now am blanking on it.

    An FBI agent once asked me knowingly about Unabom. Not willing to give her the upper hand lightly (on that particular day, she had shifted to playing the role of the bad guy), I reminded her that the FBI never charged the first five Unabom crimes.

    There’s a new Unabom book out from an insider’s perspective, to include co-author Terry Turchie, PhD. And so while I recommend it (without having read it), I would just remind the agents that if the profiling had been good, they would have targeted someone who was living self-sufficiently, in a cabin with no electricity and a garden. They should have been looking for a Thoreau with a keen interest in violence.

    It was their decision to share information that was the brilliant and decisive stroke.

    There were copious notebooks found in Kaczynski’s cabin, bomb components, the typewriter, an identifying number used in communication, and much much more.

    In his criminal defense, Kazynski was very shrewd, almost embedding legal error by insisting at the last minute on representing himself.

    I loved Unabom partly because of the unpublished novel TECHNOPHOBIA, written by Joe LaFollette by David Kacynski’s close friend in 1985. It is on file at the Madison Building in DC.

    Reality is way more interesting than fiction.

    • DXer said

      One fun fact I first pointed out over a decade or two ago was that Harvard class’s 20th-anniversary report in 1982 lists Kaczynski’s address as Khadar Khel, Afghanistan, a remote village near the Khyber Pass. I could never corroborate that he was there — he might have just been messing with his classmates.

  16. DXer said

    Bioterrorism: lessons learned since the anthrax mailings.
    Michael J Imperiale; Arturo Casadevall
    mBio. 2011;2(6):e00232-00211.

    In the fall of 2001, Bacillus anthracis spores were spread through letters mailed in the United States. Twenty-two people are known to have been infected, and five of these individuals died. Together with the September 11 attacks, this resulted in a reevaluation of the risks and benefits of life science research with the potential for misuse. In this editorial, we review some of the results of these discussions and their implications for the future.



    Attention to an “insider threat” was amplified by the identification of Bruce Ivins, a scientist working in a U.S. government laboratory, as the possible perpetrator of the anthrax attacks. The emerging consensus is that ongoing attention to lab workers’ trustworthiness, behavior, and attitude is the best means to reduce the risk that someone might deliberately cause harm.

    We are very fortunate that 10 years have passed with no additional bioterrorism events. This is a testament to the effort of scientists behaving responsibly and working together with the national security community to minimize the risks. While ideally, one would like to reduce the risk to zero, living in the real world, we know that zero risk would mean little progress and that an impaired research enterprise will leave us more vulnerable. Our nation was built by, and has thrived on the efforts of, risk takers. The current oversight system for life science research is functional and robust, ensuring that the pace to discovery is limited only by intellectual and fiscal resources.

    Michael J. Imperiale
    Editor, mBio

    Arturo Casadevall
    Founding Editor-in-Chief, mBio

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

  17. DXer said

    The gathering storm of lab safety: Pathogen safety in federal labs

    Andrew Maynard
    Andrew Maynard
    2020 Science

    Posted: Jul 21, 2014

    “A culture of complacency

    This culture of complacency within research labs is underlined by the current National Academies of Science study on establishing and promoting a culture of safety in academic laboratory research.


    Supporting this assessment, on May 13 2013 an open letter fro three companies published in C&E Newsnoted

    Occupational Safety & Health Administration statistics demonstrate that researchers are 11 times more likely to get hurt in an academic lab than in an industrial lab. There have been serious accidents in academic labs in recent years—including fatalities—that could have been prevented with the proper use of protective equipment and safer laboratory procedures.

    Blatant contempt for safe practices in academic laboratories are thankfully increasingly rare in my experience. Yet there remains a residual elitism in some laboratories that resists safety procedures imposed by others.

    A gathering storm

    While the current focus is on labs handling pathogens, I cannot see public concerns over laboratory safety stopping there. Most academic researchers have war stories about near misses in their labs or the labs of people they know. As these become open to public scrutiny, there’s likely to be increasing pressure to change cultures, habits and practices.

    It’s a gathering storm that scientists in academia should be preparing for – whether they handle pathogens or not.”

  18. DXer said

    “Smallpox and Anthrax Scandals Cap History of Fumbling Dangerous Materials,”
    The CDC, NIH, and FDA have mishandled hazardous materials, but they aren’t alone.


    It sounds like the setup to an apocalyptic movie about a pandemic. Live samples of the deadly smallpox virus werefound in an unused storage room at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. Also hidden away in that forgotten room were 12 boxes and 327 vials filled with the viruses that cause dengue fever and influenza and the bacteria responsible for spotted fever. …

    Many university, research, and medical centers in the U.S. did start improving security after the terrorist attacks in 2001, says Lyman, but the process hasn’t been as comprehensive as many people think.

  19. DXer said

    U.S. CDC says it ‘may never know’ how bird flu mishap occurred
    CHICAGO Mon Jul 21, 2014

    (Reuters) – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “may never know” how a fairly harmless form of bird flu was cross-contaminated with a dangerous bird flu strain before it was sent to a laboratory outside of the CDC, an agency spokesman said on Monday.

    That’s because most of the materials used in the experiment to culture the virus were discarded shortly after they were used by the scientists performing the work, which occurred in March, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told Reuters.


    Federal investigators are trying to piece together how it was that the laboratory never reported the incident up the chain of command.


    Skinner said cross-contamination often can occur if improperly disinfected instruments come in contact with a growth medium, the material used to grow up the organisms, or if infected growth medium is inadvertently used.

    “The mediums and all of the materials that were used to grow up this particular virus – all of that material likely has been discarded. We may never know exactly how cross contamination occurred,” he said.


    The agency is also assembling a group of outside experts to advise on biosafety. That panel could be announced later this week, Skinner said.

  20. DXer said

    D.C. man exonerated in 1982 rape and murder; DNA reveals FBI error in conviction

    “Unlike the four previous D.C. cases, Martin’s was uncovered by the review by Machen’s office, which this winter asked Martin’s attorney if he wanted new DNA testing.

    Martin had sought DNA tests in 2001, but D.C. police said evidence was lost. Police subsequently moved evidence from a decrepit warehouse into a new facility, re-inventorying and bar-coding the contents, and Martin’s evidence file was found last November, according to court papers released by Grimm.

    In March, as first reported by Fox 5, Martin learned that DNA testing excluded him as a source of biological evidence collected from the victim.”


    In matters so serious, evidence should not be lightly lost or destroyed. Almost half of the time he served could have been avoided if care had been taken to keep his evidence available for DNA testing. The USPIS has chosen to put the letters in Amerithrax on display at a museum heralding its good work — while its reliance on the testing of those envelopes is still being reviewed.

    • richard rowley said

      I think that evidence custodianship and testing of evidence should be done by some governmental entity that has no ties to the DoJ (or the USPIS) or any other investigative/prosecutorial bodies. Conflict of interest.

  21. DXer said

    This article about using a Bayesian approach is fully available online in google scholar. It was sponsored by PNNL, which Is operated by Battelle. Similar work was done in Amerithrax but was not relied upon by the FBI in support of its Ivins Theory.

    Forensic Signature Detection of Yersinia pestis Culturing Practices across Institutions
    Using a Bayesian Network


    The field of bioforensics is focused on the analysis of evidence
    from a biocrime. Existing laboratory analyses can identify the specific
    strain of an organism, as well signatures of the specific culture batch of
    organisms, such as low-frequency contaminants or indicators of growth
    and processing methods. To link these disparate types of physical data
    to potential suspects, investigators may need to identify institutions
    or individuals whose access to strains and culturing practices match
    those identified from the evidence. In this work, we present a Bayesian
    statistical network to fuse different types of analytical measurements
    that predict the production environment of a Yersinia pestis (Y. pestis)
    sample under investigation with automated text processing of scientific
    publications to identify institutions with a history of growing Y. pestis
    under similar conditions. Furthermore, the textual and experimental
    signatures were evaluated recursively to determine the overall
    sensitivity of the network across all levels of false positives. We illustrate
    that institutions associated with several specific culturing practices
    can be accurately selected based on the experimental signature
    from only a few analytical measurements. These findings demonstrate
    that similar Bayesian networks can be generated generically for many
    organisms of interest and their deployment is not prohibitive

  22. DXer said

    At the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing today, Dr. Ebright spoke of a systematic conflict of interest. Rarely hear that in the context of Amerithrax and yet it was at the center of why the investigation, in my opinion, was so botched.

    But off the press we have an DOJ IG report assessing the DOJ Justice Task Force Review of the FBI Laboratory.

    So I yield my time:

    138-page report –

    An Assessment of the 1996 Department of Justice Task Force Review of the FBI Laboratory

    Click to access e1404.pdf

    “Investigators blast Justice Dept.’s handling of FBI crime lab problems,” Miami Herald, July 16, 2014

    We found that it took the FBI almost 5 years to identify the 64 defendants on death row whose cases involved analyses or testimony by 1 or more of the 13 examiners,” investigators noted. “The department did not notify state authorities that convictions of capital defendants could be affected by involvement of any of the 13 criticized examiners.”

    The report made public Wednesday was the third since 1997 to follow up on irregularities at the famed FBI lab. The prior inspector general reports focused on lab problems. The new report focused on the Justice Department’s task force created to identify and follow up on the cases involving scientifically unsupportable analysis and overstated testimony by FBI Lab examiners.

    The task force identified about 8,000 state and federal cases involving work by the 13 criticized examiners, of which about 2,900 resulted in convictions. In its official reponse to the OIG report, the Justice Department notes that in the “vast majority” of these cases, prosecutors concluded that the lab’s work was “not material” to the convictions.


    The new report said the Justice Department “failed to ensure that prosecutors made appropriate and timely disclosures to affected defendants” and that the department “failed to staff the Task Force with sufficient personnel to implement a case review of the magnitude it undertook.” The work took far too long, investigators said.

    At the same time, investigators acknowledged that “almost all of the problems we identified with the Department’s and the FBI’s design and management of the FBI Lab case review occurred long ago and most of the employees responsible for the review have left the Department or the FBI.”

    In its formal response, the Justice Department said that while “a number of the OIG’s criticisms are valid,” others are “unsupported.”

    “Decades ago, the FBI corrected the deficiencies that led to the creation of the Task Force,” the department noted in its official response, adding that the Task Force’s work was “unprecedented both in its magnitude and its complexity.”

    • DXer said

      IG report:

      “In this report, we make five recommendations to the Department and the FBI regarding additional review of and notification to defendants whose convictions may have been tainted by unreliable scientific analyses and testimony. We also note that almost all of the problems we identified with the Department’s and the FBI’s design and management of the FBI Lab case review occurred long ago and most of the employees responsible for the review have left the Department or the FBI. During the course of this review, we provided the Department and the FBI with information about certain defendants – including all capital cases and all cases reviewed by independent scientists – so that the Department could take immediate action to ensure these defendants received appropriate notice of the possibility that their convictions were supported by unreliable evidence. The Department and the FBI have worked cooperatively with us to expedite potentially remedial action.”

      Comment: The NAS was expressly prohibited from considering evidence of Dr. Ivins’ innocence or guilt. So there was no review of most of the assertions by the DOJ underlying its “Ivins Theory.” AUSA Kenneth Kohl immediately set out to work on the Blackwater investigation. The US Attorney left for a high-paying job. The head of the FBI Field Office resigned.

  23. DXer said

    10:30 a.m. Wednesday EST – Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Oversight and Investigations hearing is ongoing now.


  24. DXer said

    Here are some links to some of the testimony today in the “Oversight and Investigations” hearing “Review of CDC Anthrax Lab Incident.” The hearing will be webcast.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014 – 10:00am
    Oversight and Investigations
    2123 Rayburn
    Background Documents and Information:
    Hearing Notice

    Background Memo

    To read a related press release, click here.

    Panel I

    Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    Witness Testimony (Truth in Testimony and CV)

    Click to access HHRG-113-IF02-Wstate-FriedenT-20140716.pdf

    Accompanied by Joseph Henderson
    Deputy Director
    Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    (Truth in Testimony and CV)
    Jere Dick, D.V.M.

    Associate Deputy Administrator
    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Witness Testimony (Truth in Testimony and CV)

    Click to access HHRG-113-IF02-Wstate-DickJ-20140716.pdf

    Nancy Kingsbury, Ph.D.

    Managing Director
    Applied Research & Methods
    Government Accountability Office
    Witness Testimony (Truth in Testimony and CV)

    Click to access HHRG-113-IF02-Wstate-KingsburyN-20140716.pdf

    Panel II

    Sean G. Kaufman, M.P.H.

    President and Founding Partner
    Behavioral-Based Improvement Solutions, LLC
    Woodstock, Georgia
    Witness Testimony (Truth in Testimony and CV)
    Richard Ebright, Ph.D.

    Rutgers University
    Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
    Witness Testimony (Truth in Testimony and CV)

    Click to access HHRG-113-IF02-Wstate-EbrightR-20140716.pdf

    • DXer said

      Excerpt from Dr. Richard Ebright’s written testimony today (any errors in the formatting of paragraphs is mine upon the cut-and-paste):

      Click to access HHRG-113-IF02-Wstate-EbrightR-20140716.pdf

      The 2014 CDC anthrax incident reprised, nearly exactly, a 2004 incident.

      The 2014 CDC anthrax incident reprised, nearly exactly, a 2004 incident in which workers at Southern Research Institute (SRI) in Frederick MD used an inappropriate procedure to inactivate a sample of anthrax bacteria, used an inappropriate procedure to verify inactivation, and sent the putatively inert, but actually viable, anthrax bacteria to Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), in Oakland CA, where eight persons were exposed before learning the anthrax bacteria were viable.

      The CDC, as the agency with regulatory responsibility for US work with select agents relevant to human health, investigated the 2004 SRI-CHORI anthrax incident. An article in the June 11, 2004 Washington Post quotes CDC spokesperson Karen Hunter as stating “All I know is that we’re working with all the institutes involved to find out what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

      The CDC published its report on the 2004 SRI-CHORI anthrax incident in 2005.

      The 2005 CDC report included revised biosafety and biosecurity recommendations for laboratories preparing inactivated anthrax bacteria (“preparing laboratories”) and laboratories using samples of inactivated anthrax bacteria (“research laboratories”).

      The 2005 CDC report stated that: “Inactivated suspensions of B. anthracis should be cultured both at the preparing laboratory before shipment and at the research laboratory several days before use to ensure sterility. Sensitivity of sterility testing might be enhanced by increasing the inoculum size and incubation time, and by inoculating in multiple media, including both solid and broth media. Such procedures would increase the probability of detecting even a small number of viable B. anthracis spores. The 2005 CDC report further stated that: “Research laboratory workers should assume that all inactivated B. anthracis suspension materials are infectious until inactivation is adequately confirmed. BSL-2 procedures should be applied to all suspension manipulations performed before confirming sterility. After sterility is confirmed, laboratory personnel should continue to use BSL-2 procedures while performing activities with a high potential for expelling aerosolized spores.”

      The 2005 CDC report further stated that: “The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends routine anthrax vaccination of persons who work with production quantities or concentrations of B. anthracis cultures or perform other activities with a high potential for producing infectious aerosols (8). Facilities performing such work should have appropriate biosafety precautions in place to prevent exposure to B. anthracis spores; however, anthrax vaccination can be an additional layer of protection in the event of an unrecognized breach in practices or equipment failure. Because of the small potential for inadvertent exposure to aerosolized B. anthracis spores before or after sterility testing, vaccination might also be considered for researchers who routinely work with inactivated B. anthracis suspensions.”

      Had the CDC implemented the recommendations in its 2005 report on the 2005 SRI-CHORI anthrax incident, the 2014 CDC anthrax incidents would not have occurred.

      But the CDC did not implement the recommendations in its 2005 report.

      Contrary to the guidance in the 2005 CDC report: (1) The CDC preparing laboratory (BRRAT) did not perform the standard sterility testing (reducing the incubation time from the standard 48 hours to a non-standard 24 hours), much less the recommended enhanced sterility testing entailing “increasing the inoculum size and incubation time, and by inoculating in multiple media, including both solid and broth media.” (2) The CDC research laboratories (BSPB and BCFB) did not perform any form of sterility testing, much less the recommended enhanced sterility testing entailing “increasing the inoculum size and incubation time, and by inoculating in multiple media, including both solid and broth media.” (3) The CDC research laboratories (BSPB and BCFB) did not “assume that all inactivated B. anthracis suspension materials are infectious until inactivation is adequately confirmed.” (4) The CDC research laboratories (BSPB and BCFB) did not, “use BSL-2 procedures [which minimally include class-II biosafety cabinet, gloves, and gown] while performing activities with a high potential for expelling aerosolized spores.” (5) The CDC research laboratories (BSPB and BCFB) appear not to have provided workers with anthrax vaccination as “an additional layer of protection in the event of an unrecognized breach in practices or equipment failure.”

      The 2014 CDC anthrax incident shows the CDC did not learn from the 2004 incident.

      The fact that the CDC in 2014 made the same errors that had been made by SRI-CHORI in 2004 shows that the CDC did not learn from the 2004 SRI-CHORI anthrax incident. The fact that the CDC had investigated the 2004 SRI-CHORI anthrax incident, had issued biosafety and biosecurity recommendations that would have prevented the repetition of such an incident, but then ignored recommendations, makes the repetition of such an incident even more egregious.

      • DXer said

        Dr. Bruce Ivins former lab technician, Patricia Fellows, was the head of the BL-3 at SRI. When did SRI first obtain virulent Ames?

  25. DXer said
    US House panel to probe if there was cover-up in CDC lab mishap
    Reuters-45 minutes ago
    The CDC has been engulfed in controversy since last month when officials revealed that 84 lab workers had potentially been exposed to live anthrax bacteria at …


    Pertinent to the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings, the narrow question is: Is CDC one of the labs that had virulent Ames?

    If so, did they receive it from Bruce Ivins? In May 2000?

    The 20 laboratories on the FBI’s list should be disclosed. Public policy favors transparency on the issue of the distribution of Ames prior to the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings.

    • DXer said


      Investigative reporter Alison Young of the USA Today has an important article today.

      Reports reveal safety violations at many bioterror labs

      Dr. Ebright, an Eagle Boy Scout who likely actually knows his knots, has asked that I provide USAMRIID’s shipping records, if and when provided, that will show whether virulent Ames was shipped to CDC prior to 9/11 by Bruce Ivins.

      Not having heard on the FOIA request yesterday, I am hoping to hear today. On Monday, I gave some clarifying information to help the person tasked with the request to locate the enclosure to USAMRIID’s February 2002 subpoena response.

      The GAO Should Address And/Or Overcome The Obscuration Resulting From The FBI’s Overbroad Redaction Of Scientific Matters Under FOIA b6, b7C and b7D “Personal Privacy” Exemptions
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 11, 2012

      Usual Principles Governing Exemption (b)(6) of FOIA Do Not Warrant Redaction of Room Numbers (e.g., Rm. 310 and Room 305 in B3) From the Protocols Describing Dr. Ivins Work Under the Animal Protocols in September and October 2001
      Posted on December 27, 2011

      Under previous correspondence with the highly efficiient FOIA officer about (b)(6), MEDCOM’s regulations require only redaction of the individual names and not necessarily the facilities. I am hoping to avoid the necessity of an appeal relating to redaction of facilities names relating to transfer over 15 years ago under all these circumstances and the balancing of privacy interests.

      Snippets from the important USA Today article:

      “Recent glaring safety lapses involving anthrax, smallpox and a dangerous strain of bird flu are the latest violations at a half-dozen laboratories run by federal health agencies, 11 labs run by universities and eight more operated by state, local or private entities, according to government reports stamped “restricted” obtained by USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act.

      The reports by the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cited inadequate security procedures, lax inventory records for germs that could be used as bioterror agents and training concerns. Auditors warned in reports issued from 2006 to 2009 that such issues could have compromised the labs’ abilities “to safeguard select agents from accidental or intentional loss and to ensure the safety of individuals who worked with select agents.”

      Auditors also found that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is responsible for policing U.S. labs working with potential bioterror germs, largely failed during its inspections to catch serious security lapses when samples were shipped by 20 labs. CDC also didn’t quickly document corrections at other labs after issues were flagged by auditors, the reports say.”


      “There is no basis for confidence that biosafety and biosecurity standards are higher, or that inspections are more stringent, at non-CDC bioweapons-agents labs,” Ebright said.

      In 2013, USA TODAY was first to reveal an initial series of “restricted” HHS inspector general reports written in 2008, 2009 and 2010, also obtained under the FOIA, that cited CDC’s labs for failing to properly secure potential bioterror agents and not training employees who work with them.


      Additional audits looked at how the agents are shipped and compliance at labs run by a sampling of universities and state, local and private labs.


      • A January 2008 summary report about issues at state, local, private and commercial labs, which was sent to Julie Gerberding, the CDC’s director at the time, found problems at all of them that “could have compromised the ability to safeguard select agents from accidental or intentional loss.” The issues included not adequately restricting access to approved individuals, insufficient security plans and lack of documented training. Although the eight entities had agreed with auditors’ recommendations for corrections, the IG noted that six months had passed and CDC lab inspectors still hadn’t documented corrections and submitted reports to auditors.

      For security reasons, the IG’s office removed the names of the government agencies, universities and private firms that were running the labs. The specific germs or toxins were also withheld.


      A December 2009 audit involved a federal agency that described itself in an attached response letter as “the Nation’s premier biomedical research institution.” The National Institutes of Health has used that phrase in online publications to describe itself. Violations cited in the report included failure to maintain accurate and current inventory records. “The laboratory did not conduct a physical count until apprised of our audit in October 2008, at which time the laboratory determined that it had seven vials of select agents that were not recorded in the inventory records,” auditors wrote. The types of germs in the vials, which the report said dated from the 1960s, were redacted from the report. The agency in its response said auditors had overstated the potential consequences of their findings. Auditors wrote that they disagreed. The NIH press office, in a statement, said it was not able to confirm that the report is about its agency.


      All of the reports about federal entities involve agencies that are part of HHS, according to the letterhead of agency response letters that had the specific agency name removed.


      The vials of smallpox were discovered in a cold storage area at the National Institutes of Health that had been operated since 1972 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, when the FDA took over regulation of vaccines, including the smallpox vaccine.


      The FDA discovered the vials while it was doing an inventory of its lab space at the NIH in Bethesda, Md., in preparation for moving the labs to an FDA complex in Silver Spring, Md. It remains unclear why FDA had apparently not inventoried the cold storage area in decades.

  26. DXer said

    U.S. officials purge biosafety board in midst of anthrax crisis

    Sharon Begley and David Morgan
    3:53 p.m. CDT, July 15, 2014,0,5603998.story

  27. DXer said


    In the 12 years since BHR’s “Compilation of Evidence,” did it become confirmed that CDC or NIH had virulent Ames prior to 9/11?

    From 12/2001:

    (Information obtained from open sources)

    USArmy Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (Ft. Detrick, MD)#,*

    Dugway Proving Ground (Utah)#,*

    Naval Research Medical Center and associated military labs (MD)#

    Battelle Memorial Institute (Ohio; plus laboratories in many other locations)#,*

    Duke University Medical School, Clinical Microbiology Lab. (NC)

    VA Medical Center, Durham (NC)

    USDA laboratory and Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine, Ames (Iowa)

    LSU College of Veterinary Medicine*

    Northern Arizona State University (Arizona)*

    Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute (IL)

    University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque (NM)*

    Institute for Genomic Research (MD)

    Chemical and Biological Defense Establishment, Porton Down (UK)*

    Center for Applied Microbiology and Research, Porton (UK)*

    Defense Research Establishment, Suffield (CA)*

    In addition, CDC, NIH, and Los Alamos and a few others may have the Ames strain.

    • DXer said

      Was Ames within this set of 24 sent CDC? see Ivins email exchange linked

      Click to access 20000504_RE_%20B.%20anthracis%20strains.pdf

      As I understand it Bruce was publishing with one or more colleagues on a set of strains (that include 10 from China illustrating the diversity of strains in China).

      And CDC and other researchers would want the same strains to confirm the published scientific results.

    • DXer said

      Bruce was preparing the EA 101.

      As Bruce prepared the EA 101, the researcher, who Bruce expected to see at the ASM meeting, noted that Dr. Ivins already had some of the strains.

      Click to access 20000518_RE_%20Strains.pdf

    • DXer said

      This may be relevant background

      Fellows PF, Linscott MK, Ivins BE. Anthrax vaccine efficacy against Bacillus anthracis strains of diverse geographical origin. Presented at: 3rd International Conference on Anthrax; September 1998; Plymouth, England.

      Updates Linking Evidence and Experience
      Anthrax Vaccine Evidence for Safety and Efficacy Against Inhalational Anthrax
      Arthur M. Friedlander, MD; Phillip R. Pittman, MD, MPH; Gerald W. Parker, DVM, PhD

      Click to access 218jama_atx.pdf

      Efficacy Against Geographically Diverse Strains of B anthracis

      Older studies in guinea pigs suggested some strains, including Ames, were more difficult to protect against than others after anthrax vaccination.9, 10, 20 This led to the use of the term vaccine-resistant strains. However, this is a relative term. In the most definitive study,12 the overall survival rate in AVA-vaccinated guinea pigs challenged intramuscularly was 89% with a vaccine-sensitive strain vs 63% with the vaccine-resistant Ames strain.

      In the nonhuman primate aerosol challenge model, AVA protected against 2 strains, including the so-called vaccine-resistant Ames strain. Experiments are ongoing to test the effectiveness of AVA against a geographically diverse collection of strains. In the guinea pig intramuscular challenge model, 8 of 32 strains overcame the immunity induced by AVA to the same degree as did the Ames strain.13 Six of these strains were then used to challenge vaccinated rabbits. The AVA vaccination gave 90% to 100% protection against an aerosol challenge with these 6 strains that were most virulent in guinea pigs (B. E. Ivins, oral communication, July 1999). Two of these 6 strains were then used to challenge nonhuman primates vaccinated with 2 doses of AVA. Eight of 10 and 10 of 10 animals survived lethal aerosol challenge against these strains (M. L. M. Pitt, oral communication, October 1999). Thus, AVA protects rabbits and nonhuman primates against a lethal aerosol challenge with all strains tested.

      Experiments are ongoing to test the effectiveness of AVA against a geographically diverse collection of strains. In the guinea pig intramuscular challenge model, 8 of 32 strains overcame the immunity induced by AVA to the same degree as did the Ames strain.13 Six of these strains were then used to challenge vaccinated rabbits. The AVA vaccination gave 90% to 100% protection against an aerosol challenge with these 6 strains that were most virulent in guinea pigs (B. E. Ivins, oral communication, July 1999). Two of these 6 strains were then used to challenge nonhuman primates vaccinated with 2 doses of AVA. Eight of 10 and 10 of 10 animals survived lethal aerosol challenge against these strains (M. L. M. Pitt, oral communication, October 1999). Thus, AVA protects rabbits and nonhuman primates against a lethal aerosol challenge with all strains tested.

      13/ Fellows PF, Linscott MK, Ivins BE. Anthrax vaccine efficacy against Bacillus anthracis strains of diverse geographical origin. Presented at: 3rd International Conference on Anthrax; September 1998; Plymouth, England.

      That Plymouth conference was attended by the infiltrating scientist Rauf Ahmad, who visited B3s on a mission for Ayman Zawahiri to acquire virulent anthrax. After an initial unsuccessful mission to a first lab, he made arrangements to go to a facility with a B3 with virulent anthrax. His first sentence in his letter to Dr. Ayman announced that he had successfully achieved the targets.

      But, okay, okay, I know. Bruce Ivins edited Wikipedia about a college sorority and the FBI found panties in his garbage.

      • DXer said

        errata – Rauf Ahmad attended the UK anthrax conferences sponsored in 1999 and 2000. Source: SFAM director. I have no indication he attended the conference in 1998.

      • DXer said

        Dr. Nass attended that 1998 conference. Bruce had saved her a copy of that presentation on the geographically diverse strains.

    • DXer said

      Research on efficacy against different strains was submitted in September 2000 and included Ames.

      Shouldn’t we therefore deduce that the May 2000 EA 101 that Bruce Ivins prepared for a shipment of a couple dozen strains to CDC in connection with the research relating to efficacy against diverse geographical strains included virulent Ames?

      Vaccine. 2001 Apr 30;19(23-24):3241-7.
      Efficacy of a human anthrax vaccine in guinea pigs, rabbits, and rhesus macaques against challenge by Bacillus anthracis isolates of diverse geographical origin.
      Fellows PF1, Linscott MK, Ivins BE, Pitt ML, Rossi CA, Gibbs PH, Friedlander AM.
      Author information

      Countries listed included, for example, ZImbabwe, , India, Norway, France, and Turkey.

      Erratum in
      • Vaccine 2001 Nov 12;20(3-4):635.


      The efficacy of a licensed human anthrax vaccine (Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed (AVA)) was tested in guinea pigs, rabbits, and rhesus macaques against spore challenge by Bacillus anthracis isolates of diverse geographical origin. Initially, groups of Hartley guinea pigs were vaccinated at 0 and 4 weeks with AVA, then challenged intramuscularly at 10 weeks with spores from 33 isolates of B. anthracis. Survival among the vaccinated groups varied from 6 to 100%, although there were no differences in mean time to death among the groups. There was no correlation between isolate virulence and variable number tandem repeat category or protective antigen genotype identified. New Zealand white rabbits were then vaccinated with AVA at 0 and 4 weeks, and challenged at 10 weeks by aerosol with spores from six of the isolates that were highly virulent in vaccinated guinea pigs. AVA completely protected the rabbits from four of the isolates, and protected 90% of the animals from the other two isolates. Subsequently, two of these six isolates were then used to challenge rhesus macaques, previously vaccinated with AVA at 0 and 4 weeks, and challenged at 10 weeks by aerosol. AVA protected 80 and 100% of the animals from these two isolates. These studies demonstrated that, although AVA confers variable protection against different B. anthracis isolates in guinea pigs, it is highly protective against these same isolates in both rabbits and rhesus macaques.
      PMID: 11312020 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

      2) letter rom USAMRIID to FDA discussing the reearch involving geographically diverse strains and listing Ames. Other countries listed included Namibia, India, Norway, France, Turkey and Indonesia.

      Click to access 80n-0208-c000016-01-vol142.pdf

    • DXer said

      Dr. Ivins’ correspondent in the early May 2000 correspondence was from NIH.

      Click to access 20000501_B.%20anthracis%20strains.pdf

      From: Ivins, Bruce E Dr USAMRIID
      Subject: B. anthracis strains ‘
      Date: Monday, May 01, 2000 3:33:43 PM

      (b) (6)
      Hi, comments on the various B. anthracis strains you have, especially Kruger A, Kruger B, and the strains
      (6)It was great to see you at the NIH last week. I was very much interested in your (b) (6)
      (b) (6) from China. (The Kruger strains that we have received from include 1960A (ASIL K3878), K1 (ASIL K1769) and S35 (ASIL K1373). If you would be willing to collaborate, we would be interested in receiving some of the above strains, and any other strains you feel would be especially worthwhile in studying in animal hosts. You would of course be an author on any paper that came of the virulence study work. What we would do is initially screen the virulence in immunized guinea pigs, then take the most virulent strains into rabbits and monkeys.
      (b) (6)

      I hope you had a good trip back to I look forward to hearing from you.

      Sincerely, Bruce Ivins USAMRIID Bacteriology Division

    • DXer said

      At least I think the collaborator was from NIH given that Bruce refers to meeting him “at NIH last week.”

      Click to access 20010809_LabNotebook4383(redacted).pdf

      Dr. Ivins’ notebook titled “Vaccine Efficacy” dated 8/9/01 includes PF’s notes from October 1 and October 11, 2001. One page details the deaths on September 27 through October 8, 2001.

      On page 30, she is comparing Kruger A and B with Ames.

      On page 59, you see Kruger A and Kruger B and China strains amidst the Turkey, Namibia, Zambia, France and various other strains/

      My take-home as a lay person is that given the research collaborator was sending a set to CDC, I suspect that the set may have included virulent Ames as the result of the collaboration with Bruce.

      (Bruce was preparing an EA 101 in May 2000).

      But that can best be judged by considering the list of anthrax shipments that USAMRIID hopefully will provide as soon as today.

      • DXer said

        It seems that Bruce may have been collaborating with Kimothy instead — Dr. Smith published on anthrax from Kruger in 2000.

        That would explain why Patricia Fellows published her research on geographic diversity in Pamala Coker’s PhD thesis.

        Bacillus anthracis Diversity in Kruger National Park

        National Center for Biotechnology Information
        by KL Smith – ‎2000 – ‎Cited by 107 – ‎Related articles
        E-mail: Kimothy.Smith/at/ … The Kruger National Park (KNP), South Africa, has a recorded history of periodic anthrax epidemics causing widespread …

    • DXer said

      So did CDC obtain a set of the strains involved in the geographic diversity study — to include Ames? If so, who sent it? LSU or Bruce?

      Click to access Coker_dis.pdf

      “March 27, 2003
      The New York Times
      Key to Strains of Anthrax Is Discovered


      Scientists have discovered why different strains of the bacterium that causes anthrax differ so much in virulence, a finding that in theory could produce more effective vaccines and better tools for distinguishing and tracking the lethal germ.

      But the finding could also aid the creation of designer varieties of anthrax that are potentially deadlier to humans. Because of that potential danger, a debate occurred over whether the discovery should be kept secret, scientists said. In the end, it was decided that the benefits of publication outweighed the risks.

      The discovery was made by six scientists at Louisiana State University, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, the nation’s top center for studying germ defenses. It is published in the current Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

      The lead author, Dr. Pamala R. Coker, formerly at L.S.U. and now at the Livermore laboratory in California, spearheaded the research for her Ph.D. dissertation. The Livermore laboratory once pioneered nuclear arms but increasingly studies biology and germ defenses.

      The team’s finding centers on the anthrax genome, which consists of a single large chromosome and two small circles of DNA, known as plasmids, that carry extra genes. The scientists found that, contrary to common belief, each anthrax bacterium carries not just one set of plasmids but up to 243 copies of the first and up to 32 copies of the second, which is known as pX02. The more copies of this plasmid in a bacterial strain, the more it is capable of causing disease, the scientists said.

      The research was conducted in guinea pigs. The scientists found, for example, that an anthrax strain from Mozambique that possessed just one pX02 plasmid killed 25 percent of the test animals. But a strain from Australia with 32 copies of the plasmid left all the guinea pigs dead.


      It could also aid investigations of germ attacks. Dr. Coker of the Livermore laboratory said the finding could help forensic scientists track down the country and laboratory from which the weapon arose. That, she said, was possible because the plasmid technique acted as a kind of microscope to reveal finer genetic distinctions among the 89 known varieties of anthrax. A match between the attack germ and a library of detailed fingerprints could help locate the perpetrator.

      Dr. Coker conceded that the research in theory could also help a genetic engineer make a more deadly form of anthrax by increasing the number of pX02 plasmids.


      In addition to Dr. Coker of Livermore and Dr. Hugh-Jones of L.S.U., the paper’s authors are Dr. Kimothy L. Smith of the Livermore laboratory, Patricia F. Fellows of the Army research institute, and Dr. Galena Rybachuck and Dr. Konstantin G. Kousoulas of L.S.U.”

  28. DXer said

    Tunisian Accused in Al-Qaeda Rail Attack Plot Seeks Release
    By Patricia Hurtado July 14, 2014

    A Tunisian accused of radicalizing a Canadian man charged in an alleged al-Qaeda plot to derail a passenger train asked to be sentenced to time he’s already served in U.S. custody, arguing he was entrapped by the FBI.

    Ahmed Abassi, held since his arrest in April 2013, asked U.S. District Judge Miriam Cedarbaum in Manhattan to release him when he’s sentenced July 23. His wife, Yousra Ben Msallem, said in a letter to the judge that she and her husband were taken advantage of by Tamer El Noury, an undercover agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Abassi has denied the terrorism charges since dropped by the U.S.

    The government initially claimed Abassi intended to commit acts of terrorism, including a plan to release bacteria he allegedly hoped would kill as many as 100,000 people. Prosecutors alleged Abassi had “radicalized” Chiheb Esseghaier, who was arrested last year by Canadian authorities and charged in a plot to derail a VIA Rail passenger train. Canadian officials have said the plot was supported by al-Qaeda members in Iran.


    Abassi pleaded guilty last month to lesser charges of lying to immigration officials about his employment.

    Comment: What was the bacteria?

  29. DXer said

    Excerpt from Reuters today:

    “The parallel investigation, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), was conducted from June 23 to July 3.

    APHIS found numerous violations of federal rules for handling dangerous microbes, according to the congressional document. For instance, unidentified “materials” were carried from one CDC lab to another in two plastic Ziploc bags, which did not meet the requirement that such containers be “durable.”

    In addition, anthrax was stored in refrigerators in an unrestricted hallway. The key to one “sat in its lock,” APHIS found. During its inspection, “containers of anthrax were missing and had to be tracked and located by the inspection team,” while other samples sat in an unlocked lab that had not received approval to handle select agents.

    APHIS submitted its report to the CDC on July 10, a day before CDC released its own. [ID:nL2N0PM207]

    “The reason we didn’t reference the APHIS report in our report is we received it on the day ours was being prepared for release,” said CDC spokesman Tom Skinner, adding that the agency would “work as quickly as we can to respond to the issues” that APHIS had discovered.

    Other findings from the APHIS report: Once CDC researchers realized that viable anthrax had been transferred to a lab lacking the biosafety equipment to handle it, workers in the receiving lab tried to decontaminate vials and bags that might have come in contact with the sample. They “could not remember if they used expired bleach” to do that, according to the congressional document.

    In addition, CDC workers, including those in the biodefense lab who were cleared to work with anthrax, “had not been trained to decontaminate all relevant areas or properly use decontaminants,” the report said.”

    • DXer said

      Second probe finds more safety lapses at CDC anthrax labs, Washington Post

      ● After the June anthrax incident, the CDC conducted an internal investigation and also asked the USDA’s animal and plant health inspection services to conduct a parallel probe. The USDA’s findings outline a litany of mishaps, according to a background memo prepared by the congressional subcommittee:

      ● There were missing anthrax containers that had to be tracked down by USDA inspectors;

      ● Dangerous materials were transferred using Ziploc bags, which did not meet the “durable” requirement for secondary containment;

      ● Anthrax was stored in unlocked refrigerators in an unrestricted hallway, and workers freely passed through the area at the time of inspection; the key to one of the refrigerator doors sat in its lock;

      Congressional memo that towards the end summarizes the APHIS investigation.

      Click to access HHRG-113-IF02-20140716-SD002.pdf


      This incident illustrates the folly of the FBI’s self-submission, process-of-elimination- analysis where on August 8, 2008 the lead prosecutors and investigators apparently didn’t even know that virulent Ames was also stored in Building 1412 at USAMRIID.

      Validation of assays relating to the four morphs is quite beside the point or at least pales in importance when the analysis, even under the FBI’s view, merely narrowed the field of people KNOWN to have access from 1000 to up to 300 — and that was just at USAMRIID. The genetically matching Ames was also known to have been sent elsewhere.

      Moreover, the FBI’s analysis overlooked, for example, that the intel indicates that Russia acquired its virulent Ames from USAMRIID.

    • DXer said

      “APHIS found numerous violations of federal rules for handling dangerous microbes, according to the congressional document. For instance, unidentified “materials” were carried from one CDC lab to another in two plastic Ziploc bags, which did not meet the requirement that such containers be “durable.” ”


      I’m ready to do a commercial for ziploc bags.

      I was dozing on the couch last night. I had put in a large bag of clothes into the wash that I had brought back from where i was working this weekend — moving rocks from underwater to a seawall. (Every time I came out of the water I would have to change clothes even though I was wearing chest-high waders.) Suddenly there was commotion upstairs, where my wife was transferring the clothes to the dryer — “This is ridiculous,” I heard my wife say. “Go show your father.” My daugher came down with a still-closed ziploc bag of (now liquified) blueberries. I had brought a snack, but forgotten to eat it — and then it went through the wash without leaking a bit.

      Now that’s clean living!

  30. DXer said

    CDC says it improperly sent dangerous pathogens in five incidents in past decade

    the smallpox samples in a third-floor cold-storage room kept at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

    NIH Director Francis S. Collins told employees in an e-mail Friday that investigators will examine “all freezers, refrigerators, cold rooms, storage shelves, and cabinets, as well as all other areas of storage such as offices associated with laboratories” as part of a “clean sweep” to account for materials inside the government’s research facilities.


    Besides the anthrax and bird flu incidents, the CDC report described three other events involving improper pathogen handling:

    ● In 2006, a CDC bioterror lab transferred vials of anthrax DNA to two outside laboratories, the report said. The bioterror lab “believed they had inactivated the samples,” but testing found viable anthrax bacteria. The bioterror lab instituted new procedures for shipping or transferring DNA from bacterial agents.


    Alternatively, the USG could ask that all illegally obtained or stored materials be sent into the FBI, such as (in effect) was done in Amerithrax.

    Or the FBI could premise a man’s guilt for murder on such improper transfers never having occurred.

    If you compare the CDC’s approach to the FBI’s approach, you can see that the FBI has never demonstrated similar candor or forthright acknowledgement of missteps.

    The prosecutor’s August 2008 conference contained numerous false statements on which the Ivins Theory was based (e.g., 1425 vs. 1412, lyophilizer, time in lab).

    Even after the rush of events in July 2008, in which anyone could still be sorting the information out, corrections were not made as people had time to read and process the relevant information.

    All the exculpatory forensic methods were withheld from disclosure (ink, paper, toner, tape. testing in Afghanistan etc.)

  31. DXer said

    If you google about smallpox (I haven’t today), I believe you will see the usual discussion of the very tight control of the two samples of smallpox that was claimed to exist in the world. Well, until you get to the report, as I recall it, that there was no security for the sample in Russia. But, hey, in the US, you at least could be sure — right? — that the only sample in the US was locked in a disguised safe, as I recall, at CDC, that was occasionally moved around — its location on a need-to-know basis.

    Well, oops… the CNN headline is “Forgotten vials of smallpox virus found”. (I’m on the move and it is not convenient for me to read right now).

    The lesson is that any forensic approach dominated by a genetics analysis that uses “process of elimination” starting with 20 labs — and didn’t even include the Ames in Russia! — was crock, a dog and pony show, from the get-go. No amount of distinguished and credentialed and erudite business development can change the fact that the foundation of microbial forensics that narrowed the field from 1000 to 300 — and, truth be told, that’s all it ever did — was built on quicksand.

    How many sinkholes need to open up before folks realize that the structure and framing had collapsed a half decade ago?

    Forgotten vials of smallpox virus found [at NIH, I believe; the only sample was historically only thought to be locked in a safe at CDC].

    Update: Bruce Ivins is still dead. And the FBI never corrected itself and acknowledged that he had a reason to be in the lab those nights and weekends.

    By Jen Christensen, CNN
    updated 3:10 PM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014

    • DXer said

      Forgotten vials of smallpox found in old storage room
      CBS News-1 hour ago

      Decades-Old Forgotten Vials Of Smallpox Found In Storage Room
      Opinion-Huffington Post-1 hour ago

      Vials of Smallpox Virus Found in Unapproved Maryland Lab
      In-Depth-ABC News-3 hours ago

      Smallpox Vials Discovered in Lab Storage Room, CDC Says (blog)-2 hours ago

      Forgotten vials of smallpox found in storage room
      Opinion-Boston Herald-2 hours ago

    • DXer said

      Smallpox Virus Found In Unsecured NIH Freezer
      Northwest Public Radio-3 hours ago
      The CDC swooped in to collect the vials and carted them off to a secure … the agency said scientists did indeed find smallpox DNA in the vials.

      The laboratory on the NIH campus had been transferred to the Food and Drug Administration in 1972. It was being cleaned out as the FDA was preparing to move that lab to its main campus.


      The CDC and the FBI are investigating the history of these vials, which apparently date to the 1950s, according to the CDC statement.


      For all his talk of “exclusion” and “inclusion” in Croatia in October 2013, did Paul Keim, as to the collection of samples, ever stop to say: We don’t know what we don’t know?

      It’s the adage that applies under principles of common sense.

      Hugh-Jones has explained that anthrax was traded like baseball trading cards — indeed, Paul’s colleague assistant Kimothy brought duplicates of Hugh-Jones’ collection to NAU.

      But let’s start with an easy question: What was the second lab that Rauf Ahmad visited for Ayman Zawahiri. You know, the lab with virulent anthrax — after which he wrote Dr. Ayman and told him that the targets had been achieved.

      Abdur Rauf’s “I have successfully achieved” letter to Ayman al-Zawahiri
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 4, 2009

      How do you know what someone is hiding in their closet until you open the door of the right closet and let the sunlight shine in?

      Here, smallpox was found in an FDA lab.

      Would it really be so surprising, to choose another example, to think that one of the professors working at Ames, Iowa in the Ag BL-3 had a sample with the other samples in the collection in the classroom that was destroyed?

      The FBI has not even made public the list of 20 laboratories KNOWN to have virulent Ames.

  32. DXer said

    The 2014 NRC report on microbial forensics says of Amerithrax and the distribution of Ames:

    “Three examples of the power of exclusion are based on the analyses of the B. anthracis strains obtained from (1) the biological-weapons lab accident in Sverdlosk in the former Soviet Union in 1979 (Meselson et al., 1994), (2) the Aum Shinrikyo terrorist attack in Tokyo in 1993 (Keim et al, 2001; Danzig and Hosford, 2012) and (3) a biological-weapons production facility in Al Hakam, Iraq (analyzed after the 2001 anthrax letters attack). None of these were consistent with the Ames strain in the anthrax letters. Links to the Japanese terrorist group and the Russian and Iraqi biological weapons programs were therefore ruled out.”

    Comment: Ha! What a ridiculous statement. We know that Russia had Ames because US scientist Popov says he requested it and obtained it from Ft. Detick through Russian spies.

    The Baltimore Sun, in the 2006 article, also relied on my friend, GMU scientist Serguei Popov, who was “a scientist once based in a Soviet bioweapons lab in Obolensk, south of Moscow.” Dr. Popov “said that by the early 1980s his colleagues had obtained at least two strains of anthrax commonly studied in Detrick and affiliated labs. They included the Ames strain, first identified at Detrick in the early 1980s.” Ames was used for testing U.S. military vaccines and was the strain used in the 2001 anthrax letters that killed five people and infected 23 in the U.S. Dr. Popov is now at George Mason University’s National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Disease at in Fairfax, Va. (Disclaimer: I “If you wanted ’special materials,’ you had to fill out a request,” he said. “And, essentially, those materials were provided. How and by whom, I can’t say.” One colleague, Popov told the Sun, used this “special materials” program to obtain a strain of Yersinia pestis, a plague bacterium being studied in a Western lab. But he didn’t know whether that particular germ came from Ft. Detrick. Former KGB operative and author Kouzminov says the KGB wanted specific items from Western labs — including Detrick — that were closely held and were willing to pay for the privilege. The Soviets also wanted the aerosol powders U.S. scientists developed for testing during vaccine tests.

    Raymond Zilinskas, the bioweapons expert with the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and two colleagues wrote a scathing review of Biological Espionage in Nature, a British scientific journal. But Zilinskas later told The Sun “that his sources now say that Soviet intelligence routinely obtained details of work at USAMRIID that went beyond the descriptions in scientific journals.”

    Expert William C. Patrick III, a retired Ft Detrick bioweapons expert, and famed Russian bioweaponeer Ken Alibek agree. Patrick’s suspicions arose when he debriefed defector Alibek in the early 1990s. Alibek emigrated to the U.S. upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991. Patrick and Alibek both recognized that the Soviet and American programs had moved in a curious lock step during the 1950s and ’60s. “Anything we discovered of any import, they would have discovered and would have in their program in six months,” Patrick told the Sun. After his talks with Alibek ended, he told the Sun: “For the next two weeks I tried to think, ‘Who the hell are the spies at Detrick?’”

    Both former Russian bioweaponeers Ken Alibek and Serge Popov worked with Ali Al-Timimi at George Mason University. Dr. Al-Timimi has been convicted of sedition and sentenced to life plus 70 years. Popov and Alibek worked at the Center for Biodefense funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (”DARPA”). At one point, Al-Timimi worked not much more than 15 feet from both Dr. Alibek and former USAMRIID head Charles Bailey, who has been a prolific author and listed on a number of publications involving the virulent Ames strain. Neither Dr. Alibek nor Dr. Popov knew Ali to ever have worked on a biodefense project. He had a high security clearance for some work for the government, involving mathematical support work for the Navy, but no one seems to be able or willing to say what it involved. In the Fall of 2006, the Washington Post reported that when they raided his townhouse in late February 2003, two weeks after the capture of the son of blind sheik Abdel-Rahman, they suspected Al-Timimi of being somehow involved in the anthrax mailings. Mohammed Abdel-Rahman was on Al Qaeda’s 3-man WMD committee and had spoken alongside Ali Al-Timimi at conferences of the Islamic Assembly of North America in 1993 and 1996.

    But never mind. The documentary evidence establishes that a couple years ago, Dr. Bruce Ivins was editing a Wikipedia entry and debating whether it was correct to list members who had left the sorority.

    And based on the “power of exclusion” imagined in this context by Paul Keim, we can close the case. Nonsense.

    While I personally scratch the three — the Japanese cult, Russia and Iraq — off the list for different, sounder reasons, it is unsound to rule them based out based on sampling at a particular location.

    Sverdlosk was a mass production facility and Alikek has said that although Russia had Ames, it did not mass produce it in its weapons program. A country can have lots of strains that did not happen to be among the several escaping out of some drain pipe in some mass production facility in Russia.

    The testing would be admissible evidence in court — from which argument can be made — but there is no certainty at all based on a process of elimination of that sort. And of course the prosecution would be crushed when a scientist as distinguished as Dr. Popov takes the stand and testifies from personal knowledge.

    But note that this logic of Dr. Keim — in urging the power of exclusion in this context — is even more dangerous when applied to the self submission of samples by US researchers themselves…. even months after the mailings.

    The real power of exclusion in this context applies when, for example, the scientist has an alibi — and cannot be in the same place at the same time. (The FBI had not yet confirmed that Dr. Ivins had in fact attended his group therapy sessions at the time of his suicide). The real power of exclusion lies in the fact that Dr. Ivins was working with the 52 rabbits at the time the DOJ speculated he was making anthrax — and falsely claiiming he had no reason to be in the lab.

    The real power of exclusion applies when you realize that the lyophilizer was not in the B3 as US Attorney Taylor had claimed at the August 8, 2001 press conference.

    Again, the evidence is that Russia DID in fact have Ames, based on the report of the head of the program, Ken Alibek, the book by the former KGB handler of bio spies, and report of Serge Popov, who explained that they could obtain whatever they wanted and that he personally obtained and used Ames.

    The fact that it wasn’t a strain that was mass-produced (such as at Sverdlosk) is immaterial.

    Raymond Zilinskas, who was researching a history of the Soviet bioweapons program, then told The Baltimore Sun years ago that “his sources now say that Soviet intelligence routinely obtained details of work at USAMRIID that went beyond the descriptions in scientific journals.” The Sun quoted him saying: “It was clear there was somebody at Fort Detrick” who worked for Soviet intelligence. Alexander Y. Kouzminov, a biophysicist who says he once worked for the KGB, had first made the claim in a book, Biological Espionage: Special Operations of the Soviet and Russian Foreign Intelligence Services in the West. Initially, Dr. Zilinskas had dismissed the memoir because the Russian had made separate fanciful inferences about the US program being offensive and some bizarre specific claims unrelated to infiltration of the US program.

    It was widely reported that the FBI spent years looking for a spy working for the Russians at Ft. Detrick providing pathogens. The FBI scientists, of course, should know better. If they don’t, that is merely another example of unhelpful compartmentalization.

    The Sun article explained that then “another former Soviet scientist told The Sun that his lab routinely received dangerous pathogens and other materials from Western labs through a clandestine channel like the one Kouzminov described.” A second unnamed “U.S. arms control specialist” told the Sun he had independent evidence of a Soviet spy at Fort Detrick.”

    Dr. Popov, who has always been wonderfully responsive and forthright, explained to me that relying on lab notebooks is dangerous, for example, because in a covert program (such as the Russians had) there would be an elaborate cover documentation.

  33. DXer said

    The new 2014 National Research Council report on microbial forensics discusses the FBI’s 4 morphs analysis in Amerithrax:

    “Unfortunately, the rigor used in collecting and processing samples did not match the rigor of the powerful and validated assays. Validating an evidence-handling stream is very difficult. Achieving high confidence would entail processing a large number of blank samples, which is very expensive. In the anthrax letters case, this could not be performed in real time and was not done. A “false positive result that was uncovered during early evidence handling led to the unneccesary and expensive draining of a Maryland pond.” (p. 30)

    “This evidence proved not to be consistent with the Ames strain. (NRC, 2011) Trace evidence errors can lead to costly mistakes.”


    The traces of anthrax to which the “false positive” was associated was on an item pulled from the pond UPON THE FIRST DRAINING the previous winter.

    In a Washington Post article on May 30, 2003, we are treated to characterization of the false positive as merely a conflicting lab report. We learned of the tantalizing (albeit casually dropped) new discovery of gloves wrapped in plastic. Can you imagine the leaker gleefully seizing the issue of the gloves allegedly found, challenging detractors to a duel, and saying “Take that!”

    We are also told that investigators were “surprised” not to find traces of anthrax at the places they searched. Surprised? Wouldn’t it only be surprising if you had assumed your conclusion of a person’s guilt as investigators later did under an Ivins Theory?

    “Some agents fear that draining the pond, estimated to cost $250,000, could prove useless and embarrassing.”

    Imagine what investigators worried about getting in trouble over a suspect’s suicide might do with semen-stayed panties thrown out in the garbage.

    Dr. Majidi says that the reason that the FBI did not swab suspect labs for subtilis was due to a lack of money. $100 million only goes so far in conducting an investigation.

    Did they at least swab the Frederick ponds for the genetically matching subtilis? If so, what was the finding?

    At the time of the second draining the tests already were ALREADY known to be inconclusive, right? See Scott Shane’s article linked below. So it seems that the FBI’s confidence in its Hatfill Theory was always based on wholly inconclusive scientific evidence.

    There is the related issue of the FBI’s scientists view of the imagined “glove box” which never passed the all-important “giggles test.”

    Frederick pond being drained in anthrax case investigation
    FBI searching for spores and discarded equipment
    June 10, 2003|By Scott Shane | Scott Shane,SUN STAFF

    FREDERICK – In a costly and unusual step in its hunt for the anthrax killer, the FBI began draining a 1-acre trout pond in a Frederick County forest yesterday, hoping to find discarded biological equipment or telltale anthrax spores on its muddy bottom.

    The project, estimated to cost about $250,000 and take several weeks, began yesterday morning after a state biologist told investigators how to avoid trampling a rare yellow-fringed orchid and other endangered species in the area.

    The search follows the discovery in the pond last winter of a plastic box that some investigators believe may have been used by the person who mailed anthrax-laced letters to news media organizations and U.S. senators in 2001. The attacks killed five and sickened at least 17.

    “The object appeared to be a homemade glove box, a biological safety device fitted with gloves to protect someone working with dangerous germs, though no gloves were attached. Anthrax tests on a rope also found in the pond have been inconclusive, according to a law enforcement official.”

    By way of some background, Dr. Vahid Majid has argued that a Hatfill Theory was reasonable and that Dr. Hatfill was a “prime suspect.”

    To any of the FBI scientists there at the time: what did you advise the DOJ on the “glove box” found in the pond? If you thought a Hatfill Theory was reasonable, does that mean you were you a supporter of the glove box theory?

    The news stories suggest the image of someone sticking their gloved hands into the box while underwater. Well, how does water not rush through the holes? Did investigators and DOJ/FBI scientists imagine that Hatfill stuck his hands into the box outside the water, walk awkwardly into the water, then submerge the box? Water would seep through. An unanswered question in this fanciful scenario imagined by some in the press and their unnamed sources: where are the “port” or “securing ring” -like devices? If this box was used as alleged, why would these devices be taken away by the perp instead of left there too?

    Marilyn Thompson, author of The Killer Strain, reported in the Washington Post on May 11, 2003 that in its search of the ponds, the FBI found what appears to some to be be an improvised ”glove box” and also wrapped vials. She describes it as a “clear box” — other reports describe it as a plastic tub.

    As many schoolboy knows (or at least any schoolboy with google available to him could readily learn), a rope is used to retrieve a minnow trap from the bottom of a pond. The USA Today has reported that a rope was found attached to the plastic container.

    Newsweek, on the plastic tub story, reported: “While some law-enforcement officials are taking the novel theory seriously, others have dismissed it as fantasy. ‘It got a lot of giggles,’ says one FBI source.”

    The photo in Newsweek of the diver in the wetsuit from last December or January might best be captioned, as Brer Fox once asked Brer Rabbit, “Did you catch minnows or a cold?”

    Hatfill’s spokesman, Pat Clawson, relying on details from their own “sources,” reportedly said it was “like a K-Mart sweater box; like a piece of Tupperware that just happened to have a hole in it.” Then he added, “From what I understand it doesn’t have anything to do with bioweapons.” School children are even taught online to study the flow of water systems using plastic sweater boxes with a hole cut in it and take it to the pond or stream.


    1. to incubate snake or turtle eggs,

    2. breeding crickets,

    3. snake feeding room,

    4. live bait dispenser ,

    5. common school project to study the flow of water systems,

    6. minnow or turtle trap,

    7. turtle transporter,

    8. breeding waxworms,

    9. RYO wet/dry filter,

    10. to ruin someone’s life while pumping up the value of his litigation claims.

    If a minnow trap, was it Old Pal? Crazy Pal? Singer? Getz em? Or Ketchmor? Or unknown? For the specifications and details of each, see

    Yes, some minnow traps, like the two turtle traps above, are rectangular boxes such as illustrated by Pat No. 5,131,184 (1992) that look even more closely like a glove box (which is pictured further below). As the Baltimore Sun reported, explains, what was found was NOT a commercial glove box.

    If the glove box doesn’t fit, you must acquit!

    My favorite suggestion that I’ve heard though is that it relates to the infestation of Maryland ponds of the Crofton snakehead, a species ruinous to ecosystems that someone released from an aquarium. Numerous traps were set to rid Maryland ponds of the creature.

    The way a minnow or turtle trap works is that the small fish or turtle can swim in but can’t swim out — sort of like being named a Person of Interest or “prime suspect” driven to suicide.

    What if Dr. Hatfill had committed suicide? Wouldn’t the case have been closed?

  34. DXer said

    Call For Microbial Forensics 3, 2014

    Reports: Advances in microbial forensics needed to respond to outbreaks
    Tue, 06/10/2014 – 9:53am

    The study was sponsored by the U.S. Navy, U.S. Department of State, and National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. They are private, independent nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter granted to NAS in 1863. The National Research Council is the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. For more information, visit A committee roster follows.

    • DXer said

      In connection with the 2014 National Research Council report on microbial forensics, Randall Murch, who took the early lead on FBI forensics, presented on “The Trajectory of Microbial Forensics: From Origins to “Grand Challenges”

      Former senior FBI scientist and Microbial Forensics treatise author Bruce Budowie presented on “Sampling and Preservation: Using Food and Agriculture as Examples of Targets for an Attack with a Bioweapon” and “Validation and Reference Materials for Microbial Forensics.”

      And Paul Keim presented on the “The FBI Amerithrax Investigation.”

    • DXer said

      From new National Research Council report on microbial forensics:


      Although several attempts to use pathogens as weapons occurred prior to 2001, the most comprehensive major case involving the use of a pathogen as a biological weapon occurred with the anthrax letters (or “AMerithrax”) case. In fall 2001, less than a month after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the U.S. Pentagon, letters containing spores of the anthrax disease-causing bacterium (Bacillus, or B. anthracis) were sent through the U.S. mail. Between October 4 and November 20, 2001, 22 people were sickened by anthrax, with 5 tragic fatalities … In addition , there was extensive environmental contamination caused by the anthrax mailings in the U.S. Postal Service buildings, Senate office buildings, and in many other places that processed or received the contaminated letters. The FBI led the effort to characterize the material contained in the letters and identify the individual or indivuals responsible for the mailings. This investigation involved extensive scientific study spanning almost 9 years. (NRC 2011). Over the 9 years, the FBI devoted 600,000 investigator hours to the case, which involved 17 Special Agents as well as 10 U.S. Postal Inspectors. During the investigation, 10,000 witnesses were interviewed, 80 searches conducted, 4 million megabytes of computer memory were analyzed, and 5,750 grand jury subpoenas were served. Twenty nine government, university, and commercial labs assisted with the scientific analyses that were a central aspect of the investigation. (U.S. Department of Justice, 2010). Note that, at the time of the anthrax letters mailings, the tools and technologies that were readily available were not adequate and the science of microbial forensics was in its infancy and limited to a few pioneering laboratories. (Clements remarks, 2013).

  35. DXer said

    The 2001 Anthrax Deception: The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy Paperback – September 1, 2014
    by Graeme MacQueen (Author)

    Has Graeme MacQueen mastered the documents and read the literature? Why would he engage in a structural and historical analysis rather than a documentary and true crime analysis?

    Obtain and compare his manuscript to the documents uploaded on this blog.

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

  36. DXer said

    “CIA employee’s quest to release information ‘destroyed my entire career”’


    RED 2

  37. DXer said

    Some people won’t go to the nearby university library to read peer-reviewed articles in attempt to solve a mystery and answer unanswered questions. Others will go to Prague.

    Edward Jay Epstein

    “We Don’t KNow About The Anthrax Attack”

  38. DXer said

    In this documentary that aired on E network and was uploaded in February 2014 on the 20 most shocking unsolved crimes, the anthrax murders of 2001 starts at 54:22 and ends at 58:55,

    Ken Robinson says he thinks it was a coordinated attack and that we need to be prepared to defend against another such attack.

    In connection with Isabella Gardner heist, I wrote recently to the fellow who loaned Robart Guarente money in 1999 after he was indicted for cocaine distribution. (see the public online records that has his the mortgage in his wife’s name).

    I explained that this was a time when Carmello Merlino (according to the FBI informant reports) was afraid that Bobby Guarente was going to talk. So I ventured to the lawyer/entrepreneur that if he had any insights on where the paintings might be, it seemed that encouraging the return of the paintings would be a win-win-win.

    The fellow’s business enterprise is involved in high-end “asset management.” Out of New England School of law in the early 1980s, he joined a fellow alum whose empathy for the common man was instilled by the hardworking Italian immigrants in Boston. But even then, he only spent 25% practicing law and was involved in venture capital, to include a car and insurance and limo business.

    I suggested that it was time for the paintings to come home and that I wasn’t interested in the reward — just the “solve”. (I explained that I thought the paintings were seriously damaged and that the reward would be heavily discounted).

    He didn’t respond but I now regret the uninformative subject line of “Bobby and Isabella.”

    20 Most Shocking Unsolved Crimes – Documentary

    Published on Feb 24, 2014
    Some of the biggest unsolved crimes of recent memory are also some of the biggest stories of our time. The fact that no perpetrators were ever found, raises these cases to legendary status. Unsolved Crimes counts down the heists, disappearances, and murders that have captured public fascination for decades.

    Many of these stories have become the subjects of documentaries, others have become the focus of big budget films. The heists are sensational and the murders are sinister. The culprits may still be out there.

    List of Crimes:
    #20:(01:16) – Adam Walsh Murder
    #19:(06:40) – Jam-Master Jay Murder
    #18:(9:45) – Jason Allen and Lindsay Cutshall Murder
    #17:(15:00) – Tylenol Poisoning
    #16:(19:15) – Bobby Fuller Murder
    #15:(22:35) – The Zodiac Killer
    #14:(27:27) – Alexander Litvinenko Murder
    #13:(31:42) – Vanessa Johnson Murder
    #12:(36:06) – Amber Hagerman Murder
    #11:(41:25) – Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Robbery
    #10:(44:38) – George Allen Smith Murder
    #9:(46:29) – Jacqueline Levitz
    #8:(49:30) – Madeleine McCann
    #7:(54:22) – Anthrax murders of 2001
    #6:(58:56) – D.B Cooper
    #5:(01:03:13) – Chandra Levy Murder
    #4:(01:08:50) – Jimmy Hoffa
    #3:(01:13:38) – The Black Dahlia
    #2:(1:15:50) – JonBenet Ramsey
    #1:(01:22:20) – Natalee Holloway

    • DXer said

      See also

      An Unnatural History of Emerging Infections
      Ron Barrett and George Armelagos
      160 pages | 240x168mm
      978-0-19-960829-4 | Hardback | 19 September 2013
      Also available as: eBook

      An Unnatural History of Emerging Infections
      Ron Barrett and George Armelagos. An Unnatural History of Emerging Infections. Oxford University Press, 2013 (e-book)

      Microbial forensics has already been used in criminal investigations, court cases and intelligence operations, such as the ‘Amerithrax’ (anthrax) attacks of 2001, anthrax spores sprayed over Japan by a cult, and suspicious plague cases in New York City (Yan et al, 2014). *** The United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Japan, Canada, Germany, Australia, Singapore, and now China are involved in the development of microbial forensics (Koblentz & Tucker, 2010; Yan et al, 2014).

    • DXer said

      Biological weapons and terrorism /
      Kimberly Kisner
      English Internet Resource Internet Resource : Thesis/dissertation/manuscript Archival Material Archival Material Computer File Computer File v, 91 leaves ; 29 cm

      The purpose of this paper is to determine if there is a growing bioterrorism threat. The thesis analyzes the lessons and implications taken from two state program case studies and four examples of terrorists desiring or achieving a biological weapons capability. The second part of the thesis aims to understand the effects of the biotechnology revolution on biological weapons programs….

    • DXer said

      D.C Museum Displays Items From 2001 Anthrax Attacks

    • DXer said
      National Postal Museum Opens “Behind the Badge” Exhibition
      Interactive Exhibit Showcases the U.S. Postal Inspection Service

      Released: 6/27/2014 4:00 PM EDT
      Source Newsroom: Smithsonian Institution

      Newswise — The “Behind the Badge” exhibition opened today at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. It showcases the work of one of the nation’s oldest federal law-enforcement agencies. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service dates to 1776, when Benjamin Franklin first sent a surveyor to investigate the fledgling nation’s mail routes for efficiency and security. While post offices, postal employees and mail are common sights across the country, Americans may not realize that behind each is a network of U.S. postal inspectors working to keep the mail safe and empowering consumers to protect themselves and prevent crimes. A special online version of the exhibit is available on the museum’s website.
      The exhibit offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about this little-known agency through some well-known cases that crossed their desks. Postal inspectors play a key role in restoring mail service and returning a sense of normalcy to communities shattered by natural and man-made disasters, from floods and wildfires to airplane crashes and terrorist attacks. Historic and contemporary cases that examine the wide range of work done by inspectors are interwoven throughout the exhibit.
      The exhibit features many interactive opportunities, providing visitors numerous chances to try their hand at a variety of skills that are part of a postal inspector’s repertoire. These activities include spotting fraud and other mail scams, identifying crime suspects and analyzing crime scenes. Exhibit highlights include:
      — Anthrax-laced letter addressed to Sen. Tom Daschle—On loan from the FBI is the threatening message that was mailed with anthrax to the office of Sen. Tom Daschle in 2001. The examination and decontamination processes left the letter and envelope nearly illegible.
      — Mail collection box from 2001 anthrax attacks—Only a month after the nation suffered the 9/11 attacks in 2001, it faced a new danger in the form of anthrax-laced letters mailed to members of Congress and the national media. Those letters were deposited in this Princeton, N.J., collection box. Visitors will notice that the box retains a dusty coating resulting from the decontamination process.
      — “Help Keep the Mail Safe” is a multiuser touch table that challenges visitors to distinguish fraudulent or dangerous mail from safe pieces. These are items visitors could encounter at home or at the office. Which one should they open? And which one will empty their bank account? They decide.
      — What does it take to be a postal inspector? A series of four mechanical interactive activities challenges visitors to use skills that postal inspectors use to solve and prevent crimes. Visitors can gather clues at a crime scene, match fingerprints, identify a suspect and even protect a major event venue by screening mail for explosive, biological, chemical and radiological agents.
      — Personal narratives are the heart of “The Many Faces of Mail Safety” video, where postal inspectors, forensic analysts and postal police officers share their stories of life “behind the badge.” Four postal inspectors who worked headline investigations, such as the 1996 apprehension of Unabomber Kaczynski and the 2012 conviction of Allen Stanford for operating a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, tell their stories in audio stations in the exhibition. ***

    • DXer said

      I tend to like Nancy Drew-worthy hunts for buried pirate treasure rather than murder mysteries.

      There is going to be breaking national news in Isabella Gardner mystery before too long about the 2004 pitch of the paintings to the museum. I came to know about it only because Elene and Jeanine’s friend, ailing and broke — involved in the 2004 pitch with the Boston attorney — came to live with his daughter and her husband. We can all wish for the return of the paintings. Even if crime doesn’t pay, we can hope that everyone in need finds a way to be comfortable and is well cared-for.

      On a separate front, unfortunately, the FBI divers in the water again today will not be searching for Dutch Schultz’ missing millions at the location of his secret Yonkers brewery at John and Ann St.

      When I don my chest high waders today in record heat today, I’ll be multi-tasking.

      FBI in Yonkers to continue search of Hudson River

      see chapter on “Yonkers, ” “Dutch Schultz in Fairfield County, Connecticut in 1935 : his horses, his hiding places, and his missing millions”

  39. richard rowley said

    A tangential-to-Amerithrax milestone:

  40. richard rowley said

    I hate to be a wet blanket on the GAO report, but I sense a window of opportunity for
    reinvestigating Amerithrax is closing. It’s a matter of political will and only Rush Holt in the House and Senators Leahy and Grassley in the Senate have shown a willingness to criticize the outcome of the case in public. Holt isn’t running for reelection and will be gone by January. Grassley and Leahy are ideally placed (both are on the Judiciary Committee with Leahy the chairman and Grassley the ranking Republican), but, let’s face it, they aren’t getting any younger: Leahy is 74 and is THE most senior US senator, Grassley won’t be up for reelection until 2016 (same with Leahy). But the present administration has shown no willingness to reconsider the case, and the present administration will be in place until the end of 2016.

    Of course a lot depends on HOW critical the GAO report is of the work of the Task Force (the more critical, the more likely senators and congressmen will feel compelled to vote for a reinvestigation). And that, it seems to me, depends on how wide the GAO’s remit is in the matter. Something unknown to me.

  41. DXer said

    Killers Without Conscience

    The Aflac Duck Wasn’t Quacking Anthrax!
    Posted on June 29, 2014 by marilyn4ever

    Please see the original for flavor, opinion and photos.

    Selected Excerpts:

    *** The Anthrax murders of 2001 are an unsolved pathological case of long-distance serial murder. Anthrax struck just after 9-1-1. People were already jumpy. Eight days later, a biological attack in the form of anthrax arrived in the mail at tabloid photo editor Robert Stevens’ office in Florida. He opened the letter and frowned at the white powder that spilled out. Within hours, Stevens thought he’d developed a nasty case of the flu. Within days, Stevens died of that so-called flu. TheCentre of Disease Control (CDC) released a public statement to the press: “The Centre of Disease Control has just confirmed diagnosis of anthrax in a patient at a Florida Hospital.” Anthrax? What the hell was that? Anthrax (bacillus anthracis) is a bacillus bacteria. It causes internal organs to hemmhorage, or bleed out. Nice. It damages the structure and function of the organs and its tissues. Ouch. What a painful way to go. Anthrax is found all over the world. There are different forms of anthrax disease, most of which are lethal to humans. The nasty buggers can survive in harsh conditions for decades or centuries (something to look forward to). Anthrax usually infects wild and domesticated animals that eat or inhale anthrax spores while grazing or sniffing at grass. It doesn’t spread with direct person to person contact but the spores can settle on clothing and shoes. Because anthrax is so durable it is deliberately used in biological weapons. ***

    In fact, rather like Jack, the Anthrax killer (if there was only one) sent letters taunting government officials along with their powdery gift. Take Penacilin(sic) Now. Death to United States. Death to Israel, were among some of the pleasantries listed in the letters. What was the motivation? The killer seemed to target countries around the world insofar as the messages were concerned, yet only Americans were infected, hence the name Amerithrax. The FBI The FBI and the CDC worked together in an effort to prevent the spread of Stevens’ anthrax delivery. The office was quarantined and his staff was tested. They learned that anthrax indeed was the killer, however, Stevens’ staff remained uninfected. The Anthrax Killer generally targeted senators and major media spokespeople. Dan Rathers and Tom Brokaw’s assistant developed skin anthrax. This form of anthrax was cutaneous, meaning it infected the skin. That infection wasn’t a mere rash. It was truly nasty. It looked like flesh-eating disease and caused lesions. Nasty, peeling, pussing, stuff that hurt like, well, anthrax.

    Two postal workers died of pulmonary anthrax disease (heart) in late October. The Anthrax Killer was knocking em’ down in a quick succession. Imagine what these poor people went through. If you were the recipient of an anthrax letter, when you opened it, that terrible white powder poured out onto your hands, clothes, desk, whatever. If you were up on your current events, you knew right away you had just been exposed to a lethal bacteria. If that wasn’t a heart-stopper (pun) then what was? Two women died of anthrax-related pulmonary poisoning in November. The death toll stood at 5, 2 more people had been severely infected and 22 people overall were exposed to it. The FBI launched its widest investigation in American history. ***

    Mass Hysteria The public responded in a predictable, understandably hysterical manner. They swamped hospital and police switchboards with panicked phone calls asking if their mail was safe to touch or to open. In response, the government urged people to take anthrax antibiotics. 20,000 people complied until local pharmacies ran out of the stuff. I’ve never heard of taking antibiotics before infection, but the CDC seemed to think it was a good idea so who am I to dissent?

    Steven Hatfill
    Hatfill underwent a “trial by media circus” during the FBI investigation. Hatfill was a physician, virologist and bio-weapons expert. Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg accused Hatfill of the poisonings, stating to journalists that Hatfill was the “most likely person.” She included her suspicions in a report to the FBI. After she gave an interview to the press, journalists pressured the FBI to do an intensive inspection into Hatfill’s personal and professional life. Searches of his apartment in July and August 2002 included many journalists but they turned up nothing. At one point, an FBI car accidentally ran over his foot. Ouch. Not as lethal as anthrax, but the FBI made its point. Hatfill sued the government for defamation of character. The government settled for $5.8 million.


    On July 29, 2008, the FBI’s main suspect, Bruce E. Ivins, a researcher in anthrax vaccines at a government-run bio-weapons laboratory committed suicide. On April 11, 2007, the FBI put Ivins under constant surveillance and an FBI document stated that “Bruce Edwards Ivins is an extreme;y sensitive subject in the anthrax investigation.” The FBI eventually told Ivins charges would be brought against him in connection with the anthrax poisonings. Does this mean Ivins was the anthrax killer? Who knows? Wouldn’t you be frightened enough to consider suicide if the FBI was out to get you, regardless of your guilt or innocence? I would. If you’ve ever been an innocent person accused of something you didn’t do you have the idea of how frightening that experience can be. Throw the FBI into that mix and you’re in for the fight of your life. Also consider that the anthrax poisonings were long over. They began and ended in 2001. This was 2008. To suggest that after Ivin’s suicide there were no more poisonings is naive at best. There hadn’t been any poisonings in 7 years. Guess what Ivins used to kill himself? Nope, not anthrax. Aspirin. There’s another creepy chemical poisoning for you.

    Ongoing Doubt Two American senators insisted on an investigation into the method the FBI used to implicate Ivins. A report stated that, “although the type of anthrax used in the letters was correctly identified as the Ames strain of the bacterium, there was insufficient scientific evidence for the FBI’s assertion that it originated from Ivins’ laboratory.”The FBI responded that it “science alone” would not lead to the likely suspect, and that it was a combination of facts that pointed to Ivins. It also stated that Ivins possessed supposed mental health issues that haven’t been revealed to the public. The FBI also stated that Ivins tried to mislead the investigation by sending “false samples of anthrax” for comparison purposes. The federal government ordered the FBI to release hundreds of documents in the case and stated they were “confident” Ivins was the culprit. “We regret that we will not have the opportunity to present to a jury to determine whether the evidence proves Ivins’ innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.” It insisted that Ivins was among only a “handful” of American scientists who knew how to process the anthrax spores. It also claimed to have found the flask in which the spores were originally held. Be that as it may, Ivins cannot be identified as the anthrax killer; without a trial or a plea, there cannot be a resolution to the case. I have to admit the FBI made some compelling arguments. It gets a lot of (a)flack for its investigations but it can’t be wrong all the time.


    Did the FBI collar the right guy when it accused Ivins? Who knows? Who cares? The anthrax scare is over.”

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

    • DXer said

      My eye was drawn today to

      The Aflac Duck Wasn’t Quacking Anthrax!

      because at a wedding yesterday I met a man and his daughter who own a duck they have named Aflac. To locate the daughter, I went around the room asking young women whether they owned a duck named Aflac. They haven’t named their turkey which does not bode well for his prospects of surviving Thanksgiving.

    • richard rowley said

      This, from the above, is a truly perspicacious remark:

      “In fact, rather like Jack, the Anthrax killer (if there was only one) sent letters taunting government officials along with their powdery gift.”

  42. DXer said

    Insight: CDC didn’t heed own lessons from 2004 anthrax scare
    CHICAGO/NEW YORK Sun Jun 29, 2014 7:06am EDT

    In June, the anthrax sample left the lab 24 hours after the attempt to kill it, which is less than the standard 48 hour waiting period required by CDC scientific protocol. But after the 2004 incident, in Oakland, California, the CDC recommended a lag of “several days”. It also recommended at the time that a lab receiving anthrax treat the sample as live until confirmed dead.

    The CDC’s biosafety officer, Dr Paul Meechan, who joined years after the Oakland incident, could not say why the lessons about handling anthrax were not learned. “Why that did not become integrated into the DNA of handling bacillus anthracis is a great question. I don’t have a good answer,” he said in an interview with Reuters.

    Meechan and other CDC officials say their organization has its own risk management system, and that the international biorisk management standards proposed in Europe and elsewhere are a response to a lack of global biosafety regulations. The United States, by contrast, has numerous regulations governing how dangerous pathogens are handled.

    “Those guidelines are out there globally. They are not necessarily the most appropriate, useful or protective for U.S. laboratories,” CDC director Dr Thomas Frieden said in an interview.

    The CDC has many laboratories that work with anthrax and other extremely dangerous microbes, and the June incident relates to only one lab, he said, adding, “To suggest there is somehow something problematic about the CDC’s lab culture is very mistaken.”

    CDC’s recent history shows problems are not new.

    The Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, CDC’s parent agency, in reports released in 2008 and 2010, documented a long list of issues. CDC labs working with the most dangerous agents did not always ensure the physical security of the pathogens or restrict access to them, and did not always ensure that personnel received required training.

    Frieden noted that after those concerns were raised, a 2012 review of a CDC animal biosafety facility by Canada’s public health agency described some CDC biosafety practices as models. To say there is a problem with safety at CDC “is simply wrong”, he said.

    But Debra Sharpe, who investigated the Oakland incident as director of compliance at Southern Research Institute, the contract lab whose Frederick, Maryland, facility shipped the live anthrax in 2004, questioned the training at the CDC and other U.S. labs.

    “We spend millions of dollars on these laboratories, but we’re not spending the appropriate amount of money on training and safety and implementing management systems,” she said.

    “I see a lot of scientists that have come from CDC. Generally, they have poorer practices,” compared with the private sector, she said.


    The system tends to focus on equipment, rather than risk assessment, said Ren Salerno, a biosecurity expert at Sandia National Laboratories, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, who advises the World Health Organization on biosafety. The CDC researchers in the biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) lab should have stopped and considered the risks around using the new process to kill anthrax, for instance.

    Instead, the scientists apparently “decided, ‘As long as we do the work in a BSL-3 laboratory . . . we’re safe,'” Salerno said, emphasizing that he did not know what drove the decisions by CDC scientists. But he added that the attitude was rampant in such labs. “I think this is huge problem.”


    The key, said Patricia Olinger, director of Emory’s environmental, health and safety office, is to get everyone looking for what could go wrong, and approaching potential problems the same way.

    “It’s a way to connect the dots instead of having all of these little silos out there,” she said. Olinger sees the anthrax mishap at the CDC as a turning point for U.S. labs. “I think it will bring light to the fact that there is a systematic approach to managing research safety programs.”


    May we have the benefit of the Lessons Learned from the 2004 incident in which virulent Ames was sent from SRI-Frederick, MD to Childrens Hospital in Oakland, CA?

    It seems that thermal activation was done by or under the supervision of Dr. Bruce Ivins’ assistant, Patricia (who had become head of the SRI B3) resulting in distribution of virulent Ames when it was thought only dead Ames was distributed.

    I believe this is the handwriting of Dr. Ivins assistant who became the SRI B3 head on this vial of Ames. See her lab notebook uploaded to Electronic Reading Room. (She varies on whether there is a cross-hatch on the “A” but sometimes writes it identically).

    The Ames was stored in Building 1412 and not Buidling 1425 as had been the premise of the FBI’s “Ivins Theory.” See August 8, 2008 press conference and US Attorney Taylor’s explanation of the FBI’s Ivins Theory.

    It was Dr. Fellows who the FBI apparently was relying on for the (incorrect) assertion that Dr. Ivins had no reason to be in the lab. Instead, it was up to someone in the FBI’s haz mat unit like Dr. Decker to read his emails and understand that (1) he had that experiment with the 52 rabbit rabbits that first week in October (with the rabbits arriving in the B3 on or about September 24) and that would take a couple hours at night and weekends to make the second check. The new animal technician, Anthony B., would do the first one in the morning.

    • DXer said

      Some background:

      State might tighten rules on biosafety
      Oakland anthrax incident spurs officials to consider changes, though feds are standing pat

      By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER
      The Oakland Tribune
      Thursday, November 11, 2004 – 6:43:35 AM PST

      After making emergency calls to state and federal health authorities, Alexander Lucas downed Cipro antibiotic tablets, donned a mask and protective biosuit and ventured alone to cleanse his laboratory of anthrax that never should have been there.

      Since mistakenly receiving a live anthrax shipment last June, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute has suspended its handling of neutralized anthrax.

      “It diminished our enthusiasm for doing that research,” said Lucas, a respected immunologist and the institute’s deputy director for research. “We never intended to work with virulent anthracis.”

      If the institute resumes work with killed anthrax, however, its scientists are committed to new safety measures, such as never taking delivery of neutralized biowarfare agents again without testing to make sure they are harmless.

      “It’s a trust-but-verify kind of thing,” said Lucas.

      While federal authorities see no need for extra biosafety protections, researchers at Children’s Hospital Oakland could be on the leading edge of tighter rules in California and perhaps other states wary of leaving the regulation of biodefense research solely to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its guidelines.

      California health officials, alarmed at the Oakland incident, are looking at new rules to protect lab workers, said Ken August, spokesman for the state’s Department of Health Services.

      “This was a very big thing for us,” he said. “We were very glad to see there were no injuries and no negative outcomes.”

      The anthrax incident at the institute’s yellow-brick lab on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard laid bare gaps in the regulation of an exploding biodefense industry, fueled by billions in new federal dollars. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the handful of biodefense labs in the nation has become legion, with more than 315 labs and 12,000 scientists now certified to handle live biowarfare agents.

      Beyond them are an unknown number of labs and scientists who, like Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute and Lucas until last summer, are exempt from requirements to register with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and be inspected.

      That is because they work with non-disease-causing strains of anthrax or disease-causing anthrax bacteria that have been killed by heat, radiation or chemicals.

      “There is no information — none, zero, not even an order of magnitude of order estimate — on the number of laboratories working with putative inactive agents or the number of shipments of those agents,” said Richard Ebright, a Rutgers University molecular biologist.

      Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute did not realize it had live anthrax on hand until 10 mice had been injected and died, then 40 more were injected. Only one mouse lived, a mortality rate of more than 98 percent.

      CDC investigators have focused on Southern Research Institute, a University of Alabama at Birmingham spinoff with a high-security lab for handling infectious agents in Frederick, Md., close to the Army’s lead biodefense lab.

      Southern Research Institute sent its vial of liquid anthrax bacteria to Oakland with a certificate avowing the germs had been intensely treated with hot water and verified by testing to contain no living organisms. Anthrax experts say the hot-water technique and the testing obviously were faulty.

      “They claimed sterility,” said Lucas. “My suspicion is the sample had a few spores that were still viable.”

      The institute’s scientists now are looking to better-equipped labs elsewhere to host their pursuit of a novel anthrax vaccine.

      The risk of the June incident to public health in the institute’s neighborhood was probably minimal. But lab workers could have been in danger, as could workers who handled the packaged vial if it had broken in transit across the country.

      So far, authorities at the CDC see no need for stronger biosafety and biosecurity rules, said spokesman Von Roebuck.

      “Obviously, if there was an instance where there was a threat to public health and it were proven, there would be a process to change or amend the rule,” he said.

      Ebright figures the two institutes dodged a bullet.

      “There were not adverse consequences, but there easily could have been both in safety and security,” said Ebright, a critic of federal biodefense policy.

      “It is disappointing that CDC has issued no guidance requiring reporting of the transferring of putatively inactive agent. The events in June in Oakland established that there is an issue, and the same security requirements for a live agent need to be in place nationwide for a putatively inactive sample.”

    • DXer said

      January 24, 2005

      Exposure at Germ Lab Reignites a Public Health Debate

      ast year, while working on a vaccine to protect against bioterrorist attacks, three laboratory workers at Boston University were exposed to the bacteria that cause a rare disease called tularemia, or rabbit fever.

      The workers recovered, though two of them had to be hospitalized. But the prognosis is less certain for the university’s ambitious plan to build a high-security biodefense laboratory, part of a national boom in germ defense research touched off by the Sept. 11 attacks and the anthrax letters of 2001.

      The tularemia episode, acknowledged by university officials only after inquiries last week from the news media, has outraged opponents of the proposed $178 million laboratory and reignited a national debate over whether the rapid expansion in work with dangerous pathogens is adequately regulated and scientifically justified.

      The Boston case follows other mishaps in germ research, including the accidental shipment of virulent live anthrax from Maryland to California last March, and an investigation that revealed multiple spills of anthrax bacteria in the Army’s biodefense laboratory. Such incidents have led some scientists to ask whether the growing number of germ laboratories – financed from the $14.5 billion in federal money spent on civilian biodefense since 2001 – may pose a menace to public health comparable to the still uncertain threat from bioterrorism.

      Dr. David Ozonoff, a professor of environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health who originally supported the new laboratory but now opposes it, argues that biodefense spending has shifted money away from “bread-and-butter public health concerns.” Given the diversion of resources and the potential for germs to leak or be diverted, he said, “I believe the lab will make us less safe.”

      Dr. Mark S. Klempner, associate provost for research at Boston University’s medical school, says the proposed laboratory, to be designated a National Biocontainment Laboratory along with one to be built in Galveston, Tex., will pose no public hazard. To be designated Biosafety Level 4 – the highest level of security – it will develop drugs and vaccines to protect not only against bioterror agents but also such natural emerging diseases as SARS and West Nile virus, he said.

      “The nation needs this lab,” Dr. Klempner said.

      Such disparate views among scientists reflect deep uncertainty about the scale and imminence of the bioterror threat. Some experts believe an attack that could kill tens of thousands of people is plausible today. Others argue that the known terrorist groups have little sophistication about biological weapons. Instead, these critics say, the biodefense expansion has been fueled by a scramble for federal money.

      Currently there are four Biosafety Level 4 laboratories nationwide, with six more planned; 50 laboratories operate at Biosafety Level 3, sufficient to work with anthrax, and 19 more are planned at universities and government institutions, according to the Sunshine Project, a Texas group that is tracking the growth.

      In the only major bioterrorist attack in American history – the anthrax-laced letters mailed to news media figures and two senators in fall 2001, killing five people – F.B.I. investigators have focused chiefly on the theory that the anthrax originated not with outside terrorists but within an American biodefense program.

      By the same token, the critics say, the tularemia that sickened the workers in Boston would not have existed if not for bioterror research. Dr. Richard H. Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University, said the disease “has zero public-health importance.” Only about 130 cases a year are reported in the United States.

      The flood of biodefense financing has drawn hundreds of inexperienced researchers into work with hazardous organisms, Dr. Ebright said. The Boston accident, he added, “shows gross, basic incompetence and raises real questions about the competence of that institution to run a biosafety Level 4 lab.”

      Boston University officials concede that the tularemia vaccine researchers did not follow proper safety procedures and have removed the principal investigator, Dr. Peter A. Rice, from his post as chief of infectious diseases. Dr. Rice was to have had a role training workers for the proposed high-security laboratory.

      University officials say the tularemia vaccine researchers thought they were working with a harmless “vaccine strain” of the Francisella tularensis bacterium. But for reasons unexplained, the sample was mixed with a virulent strain.

      When two laboratory workers developed flulike symptoms in May, no one tied the illnesses to the research, said Dr. Thomas J. Moore, acting provost of the university’s medical campus. Only after a third worker was hospitalized for several days in September did Dr. Rice first pursue the possibility of tularemia.

      Dr. Moore said the tularemia diagnosis was confirmed on Oct. 29 but not reported to state health authorities until Nov. 9, a delay he said he could not explain. But he defended the decision not to tell the public.

      “I feel comfortable about the decision not to make a public announcement because there wasn’t a public risk, since tularemia can’t be passed from person to person,” Dr. Moore said.

      Opponents of the proposed laboratory see things differently. Douglas H. Wilkins, a Boston lawyer who filed a lawsuit on Jan. 12 challenging the laboratory plan on behalf of 10 neighborhood residents, noted that the university’s environmental impact statement claims the medical center has “not had any laboratory-acquired infections.”

      Tomas Aguilar of Alternatives for Community and Environment, a group opposed to the laboratory, said: “Three infections in a five-month period – and this is all going on when Boston University is saying how safe this dangerous laboratory is going to be. A lot of people are saying, ‘It’s even worse than we thought.’ ”

      Similar safety questions have been raised by two other incidents. In 2002, the discovery of lethal anthrax outside a high-security laboratory at the military’s premier biodefense laboratory, the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Maryland, led to sampling throughout the institute. Investigators found three different strains of anthrax bacteria outside the sealed-off laboratories, indicating at least that many leaks, according to an Army report.

      Then, last spring, Southern Research Institute, a contractor in Frederick, Md., shipped anthrax bacteria to an Oakland, Calif., hospital after immersing it in hot water to kill the germs. When mice injected with the supposedly harmless bacteria for a vaccine experiment quickly died, researchers realized the bacteria were still lethal.

      Those incidents produced no human illnesses. But Dr. Ebright said some current research poses a much higher risk, notably the work by several groups that are trying to reconstruct the 1918 influenza virus, which killed more than 20 million people.

      “This work is being done in the absence of any real oversight,” he said.

      One scientist who supports the increase in biodefense spending, Dr. Tara O’Toole, does not dismiss the safety issues. In fact, she said, the biodefense expansion has focused attention on long-neglected biosafety rules. But she believes the danger of bioterrorism is so great that the billions of dollars being spent on protections may not be enough.

      “I think bioterrorism is the biggest national security threat of the 21st century,” said Dr. O’Toole, director of the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “So I want a robust biodefense research and development program.”

      Dr. O’Toole recently helped organize a bioterror exercise, called Atlantic Storm, in which terrorists attack with smallpox in the United States and four foreign countries, killing more than 87,000 people. Such a potential toll puts the risk of laboratory accidents in a different perspective.

      But is that situation realistic, when nothing remotely approaching such an attack has ever occurred?

      “After 9/11, I don’t think anyone would say that just because an attack hasn’t happened, it can’t happen,” Dr. O’Toole said. “I keep trying to talk myself out of this. But it just keeps getting scarier and scarier.”


      Not to worry, Dr. O’Toole. Chuck, the human intersect, and his colleagues are on the job. The Intersect was developed after 9/11 when it was found that compartmentalization led to the NSA and CIA not sharing information and led to the failure in intelligence analysis responsible for allowing 9/11 to happen. Add postal inspectors and a compartmentalized FBI Task Force — and the CYA mode inside the beltway — and you have Amerithrax being Exhibit B in lessons not learned.

      In real life, it is the GAO that plays the key role in breaking down compartmentalization and the withholding of information that leads to lessons not learned.

    • DXer said

      Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)

      Inadvertent Laboratory Exposure to Bacillus anthracis — California, 2004
      April 1, 2005 / 54(12);301-304

      On June 9, 2004, the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) was notified of possible inadvertent exposure to Bacillus anthracis spores at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), where workers were evaluating the immune response of mice to B. anthracis. This report summarizes the subsequent investigation by CDHS and CDC, including assessment of exposures, administration of postexposure chemoprophylaxis, and serologic testing of potentially exposed workers. The findings underscore the importance of using appropriate biosafety practices and performing adequate sterility testing when working with material believed to contain inactivated B. anthracis organisms.
      On May 28, 2004, CHORI staff members injected 10 mice with a suspension believed to contain nonviable vegetative cells of B. anthracis Ames strain. The suspension was centrifuged and drawn into syringes on an open bench in the laboratory. The mice were injected in a separate animal-handling facility at CHORI. By May 30, all of the injected animals had unexpectedly died. The carcasses were removed from the cages, placed into a plastic biohazard bag, and frozen. The bedding was discarded as standard animal waste. The cages were sanitized in an automated washer.
      On June 4, an additional 40 mice were injected with the same suspension. By June 7, all but one of these mice had died. All subsequent work was performed under a biological safety cabinet (BSC), and additional personal protective equipment (PPE) was used (e.g., protective clothing and gloves). Animal cages were brought into the BSC, and the surviving animal was euthanized. The carcasses were removed, placed into double biohazard bags, and frozen. The bedding and cages were autoclaved.
      On June 8, a sample of the original suspension was cultured; one mouse that died after the second experiment was necropsied and samples for cultures were obtained from its liver and peritoneal cavity. Within 24 hours, these cultures grew nonhemolytic gram-positive rods. Colony morphology was consistent with B. anthracis.
      Suspension material and cultures were transported to a California Laboratory Response Network (LRN) reference laboratory for further identification. The California LRN confirmed that the organisms isolated were B. anthracis by using polymerase chain reaction and gamma phage lysis assay. At CDC, antimicrobial susceptibility testing revealed that the isolates were susceptible to penicillin, ciprofloxacin, and doxycycline. Multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis confirmed that the isolates were genotype 62, consistent with B. anthracis Ames strain (1).
      On June 9, CDHS personnel visited the laboratory and animal-handling facility at CHORI to review the incident and laboratory procedures. No spills, puncture wounds, animal bites, or scratches were identified; however, initial handling of the suspension included snapping lids of microtubes, ejection of pipette tips, and centrifuging. The centrifuge tubes had snap-down tops, and the rotor was covered with a gasket. The laboratory procedures might have potentially expelled small drops of suspension but were considered unlikely to have released infectious aerosols. Because staff members believed they were working with inactive organisms, they had performed these activities on an open bench, and appropriate PPE was not consistently used until after the deaths of the second group of mice.
      As part of routine laboratory procedure, horizontal surfaces had been cleaned with a buffered bleach solution (1:10 dilution) at the end of each day. After laboratory workers recognized the possibility of exposure to viable B. anthracis spores, all laboratory surfaces and hoods were cleaned twice more with the bleach solution. The animal facility was also sanitized with bleach and a quaternary ammonium disinfectant.
      Twelve persons were involved in either the laboratory or its animal-handling facilities. Three of these persons had direct contact with the bacterial suspensions, cultures, or infected animals. Although at low risk for inhalation of B. anthracis spores, to further reduce their risk, the three workers with direct contact were recommended for postexposure chemoprophylaxis for prevention of inhalational anthrax (i.e., either ciprofloxacin 500 mg or doxycycline 100mg, orally twice daily for 60 days) (2). The nine persons who worked in the laboratory or animal-handling facility but who did not have direct contact were offered the same chemoprophylaxis regimen. All 12 were additionally offered, but declined, anthrax vaccine under an Investigational New Drug (IND) protocol for postexposure prophylaxis (3).
      Eight of the 12 potentially exposed persons opted to take chemoprophylaxis, including the three persons for whom the regimen was recommended. One person subsequently had a rash consistent with adverse reaction to ciprofloxacin; doxycycline was substituted. No other adverse effects from chemoprophylaxis were reported. None of the potentially exposed persons had symptoms consistent with anthrax.
      Serum specimens collected from nine (75%) of the 12 exposed persons 3–6 weeks after exposure were negative for IgG antibodies to B. anthracis protective antigen (PA) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (4). Three persons did not provide sera for evaluation, including one person who had direct exposure to the bacterial suspensions and cultures.
      Further investigation revealed that the suspension had been prepared by a separate contract laboratory in March 2004 and contained an estimated 1.5 x 109vegetative organisms per 1 mL of phosphate-buffered saline solution. After heating the suspension at 140ºF (60ºC) for 2 hours, the contractor reported that the suspension revealed no spores and had no growth after 48 hours of incubation on sheep blood agar.
      A sealed, screw-top tube containing the suspension was shipped to CHORI in a double-compartment package on wet ice and arrived intact. The tube of suspension was stored in a refrigerator until used. The suspension had been prepared specifically for the research laboratory and was not distributed to other facilities. All contractor laboratory personnel had received anthrax vaccine, and the suspension was prepared under biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) conditions.
      Leftover suspension from the incidents at the research laboratory were provided to CDC for quantification of viable organisms and to confirm the presence of B. anthracis spores. Sample dilutions were plated in duplicate on sheep blood agar. Approximately 2.0 x 106 colony-forming units (CFU) were enumerated per milliliter of suspension after 24 hours of incubation at 98.6ºF (37.0ºC). Comparisons of heat-shocked (149ºF [65ºC] for 30 minutes) and non–heat-shocked samples at CDC indicated that the suspension primarily contained B. anthracis spores.
      Reported by: A Lucas, PhD, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute; M Doane, MD, J Rosenberg, MD, D Gilliss, MD, P Duffey, PhD, D Sesline, DVM, D Lindquist, MPH, R Das, MD, B Materna, PhD, D Vugia, MD, California Dept of Health Svcs. S Reagan, MPH, M Fischer, MD, N Marano, DVM, A Hoffmaster, PhD, V Semenova, PhD, S Martin, MT, C Quinn, PhD, Div Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases; J Patel, PhD, Div of Healthcare Quality Promotion, National Center for Infectious Diseases; M Kiefer, R Ehrenberg, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; R Weyant, PhD, Office of Health and Safety; B Ellis, PhD, T Jones, L Bane, M Hemphill, PhD, Office of Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response, Office of the Director, CDC.
      Editorial Note:

      The findings in this investigation indicate that workers in a research laboratory unknowingly received and used a suspension from a contract laboratory that likely contained viable B. anthracis organisms. Manipulation of the suspension at the research laboratory was determined unlikely to have expelled infectious aerosols, and exposed workers were considered at low risk for inhalation of spores. CDC continues to work with state agencies and other federal agencies to investigate processing procedures at the contractor facility to determine why the suspension contained viable B. anthracis organisms.
      B. anthracis spores are highly resistant to the effects of heat and chemical disinfection (5). Although the heat-killing procedures used by the contractor might have been lethal to vegetative cells, the procedures were not lethal to spores. Modifying suspension preparations by increasing the temperature and duration of heat-killing procedures or using formalin will increase the probability that spores are inactivated (5,6).
      Inactivated suspensions of B. anthracis should be cultured both at the preparing laboratory before shipment and at the research laboratory several days before use to ensure sterility. Sensitivity of sterility testing might be enhanced by increasing the inoculum size and incubation time, and by inoculating in multiple media, including both solid and broth media. Such procedures would increase the probability of detecting even a small number of viable B. anthracis spores. CHORI staff members did not perform sterility testing on the suspension received in March 2004.
      Because inhalation of viable B. anthracis spores can result in fatal infection, CDC recommends that laboratory personnel who routinely perform activities with clinical materials and diagnostic quantities of infectious cultures implement BSL-2 practices (7). These practices include use of appropriate PPE (e.g., gloves, gowns, or laboratory coats) and a BSC for procedures with the potential to expel infectious aerosols (e.g., centrifuging or ejection of pipette tips). Face protection (e.g., goggles, face shield, or splatter guard) should be used against anticipated splashes or sprays when potentially infectious materials require handling outside of the BSC. In the incidents described in this report, because CHORI staff members believed they were working with nonviable organisms, they did not fully implement BSL-2 practices until after the deaths in the second group of mice.
      Research laboratory workers should assume that all inactivated B. anthracis suspension materials are infectious until inactivation is adequately confirmed. BSL-2 procedures should be applied to all suspension manipulations performed before confirming sterility. After sterility is confirmed, laboratory personnel should continue to use BSL-2 procedures while performing activities with a high potential for expelling aerosolized spores.
      The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends routine anthrax vaccination of persons who work with production quantities or concentrations ofB. anthracis cultures or perform other activities with a high potential for producing infectious aerosols (8). Facilities performing such work should have appropriate biosafety precautions in place to prevent exposure to B. anthracis spores; however, anthrax vaccination can be an additional layer of protection in the event of an unrecognized breach in practices or equipment failure. Because of the small potential for inadvertent exposure to aerosolized B. anthracis spores before or after sterility testing, vaccination might also be considered for researchers who routinely work with inactivated B. anthracis suspensions.
      In addition, laboratories working with inactivated B. anthracis organisms should develop and implement training activities and incident-response protocols to ensure appropriate actions are taken in the event of a potential exposure. These protocols should describe mechanisms for offering counseling and postexposure chemoprophylaxis and obtaining paired sera from potentially exposed persons. Training at animal research facilities should emphasize prompt communication between animal handlers and researchers if animals are unexpectedly found dead and any special handling procedures are needed for carcasses and bedding. Finally, institutional biosafety committees should routinely review protocols and procedures to ensure that appropriate safety precautions are always in place.

      • Hoffmaster AR, Fitzgerald CC, Ribot E, Mayer LW, Popovic T. Molecular subtyping of Bacillus anthracis and the 2001 bioterrorism-associated anthrax outbreak, United States. Emerg Infect Dis 2002;8:1111–6.
      • CDC. Update: investigation of bioterrorism-related anthrax and interim guidelines for exposure management and antimicrobial therapy, October 2001. MMWR 2001;50:909–19.
      • CDC. Use of anthrax vaccine in response to terrorism: supplemental recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. MMWR 2002;51:1024–6.
      • Quinn CP, Semenova VA, Elie CM, et al. Specific, sensitive, and quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for human immunoglobulin G antibodies to anthrax toxin protective antigen. Emerg Infect Dis 2002;8:1103–10.
      • Turnbull PCB, Kramer JM. Bacillus. In: Murray PM, Baron EJ, eds. Manual of clinical microbiology. 8th ed. Washington, DC: ASM Press; 2003:349–56.
      • Spotts Whitney EA, Beatty ME, Taylor TH Jr, et al. Inactivation of Bacillus anthracis spores. Emerg Infect Dis 2003;9:623–7.
      • CDC, National Institutes of Health. Biosafety in microbiological and biomedical laboratories. 4th ed. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, National Institutes of Health; 1999.
      • CDC. Use of anthrax vaccine in the United States: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. MMWR 2000;49(No. RR-15).

    • DXer said

      Anthrax? That’s Not the Real Worry
      By MARC LIPSITCHJUNE 29, 2014

      The anthrax exposures were not the first time high-containment labs have been breached. A new H1N1 flu strain appeared unexpectedly in 1977 and spread globally for over three decades, infecting people until the 2009 pandemic strain replaced it. Genetic and other evidence leads most experts to believe it escaped from a lab in China or the Soviet Union.


      The foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in British livestock in 2007 resulted from a virus escape from a high-containment agricultural lab, probably first in contaminated wastewater and then further spread by human and vehicle traffic. In Beijing in 2004 nine people were infected by a SARS virus from a high-containment lab before the outbreak was stopped. Between 2003 and 2009, there were 395 “potential release events” and 66 “potential loss events” in American labs involving select agents, a category that includes many of the most lethal bacteria and viruses, including anthrax.

      The circumstances of the recent anthrax incident suggest more reason for concern: The workers exposed were not those in the high-containment labs. Based on current reports, the problem arose when anthrax — incorrectly thought to be dead — was removed from the high-containment lab and exposed people who had no knowledge that they were in contact with live bacteria.

      There are dozens of safe research strategies to understand, prevent and treat pandemic flu. Only one strategy — creating virulent, contagious strains — risks inciting such a pandemic. The anthrax incident reminds us of the dangers in even the best labs. We should stop creating new potential pandemic flu strains and shift the research dollars to safer, more productive flu studies.

  43. DXer said

    Archivum Immunologiae et Therapiae Experimentalis
    June 2014
    Natural or Deliberate Outbreak in Pakistan: How to Prevent or Detect and Trace its Origin: Biosecurity, Surveillance, Forensics
    Zabta Khan Shinwari, Ali Talha Khalil, Anwar Nasim


    Over the last few decades biosecurity and biosafety have emerged as a prominent public health concern due to some high-profile accidents. Effective strategies to deal with the outbreak, whether deliberate or non-deliberate requires a multidisciplinary approach and coordinated decision-making by various state departments such as health, forensics, agriculture, environment, intelligence, law and enforcement, etc. In a dynamic global environment and the overwhelming asymmetric threats from the non-state actors, it is of utmost importance to understand the biosecurity issues and initiate a coordinated global effort to cope with biosecurity and biosafety breaches and develop an as effective response mechanism. An attractive choice for the terrorists, state enemies and non-state actors is the use of biological weapons. An unwanted incident may not only bring chaos to the people, but also can inflict severe economic damage industrially and locally as was in the notorious foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. Because of special geopolitical compulsion, Pakistan is one of the hot spots where special action needs to be taken. The current review focuses on the various approaches, technologies that can be used to alleviate the chances of biosafety and biosecurity incident and emphasizes the role of modern technology that can be used in this regard.

    Presented at IAP Scientific Seminar “Natural or Deliberate Outbreak—How to Prevent or Detect and Trace its Origin: Biosecurity, Surveillance, Forensics” co-organized by the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Military Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology on December 6, 2013 in Warsaw.

    • DXer said

      Archivum Immunologiae et Therapiae Experimentalis 2014 June 11
      Biological Threat Detection in the Air and on the Surface: How to Define the Risk.
      Elżbieta Anna Trafny, Rafał Lewandowski, Małgorzata Stępińska, Miron Kaliszewski

      The improvements in the existing methods of rapid detection and biological pathogen surveillance are still needed. The new spectroscopic methods that rely on the unique structural features and intrinsic fluorescence of microorganisms are well fitted for monitoring the spread of airborne biological agents or their reagentless detection in the air, and these methods may bring a new quality to bioaerosols remote detection. This review describes the problem of the confidence in the environmental testing results that may affect clearance standard, sampling techniques, and the estimation of risk of human exposure to the low concentrations of harmful microorganisms during bioterrorist event or naturally occurring outbreaks. Higher recovery efficiency of dangerous biological agents from the air and contaminated surfaces would enable more reliable environmental human risk exposure assessment.

    • DXer said

      In “Natural or Deliberate Outbreak in Pakistan: How to Prevent or Detect and Trace its Origin: Biosecurity, Surveillance, Forensics” , June 2014, the authors write:

      “Biowarfare tactics are practiced by the state enemies and non-state actors since ancient times to the present day (Dudley and Woodford 2002). The overall spectrum of bioterrorists includes state enemies, criminals, individuals, military ambush or state sponsored event, etc. (Zilinskas and Carus 2000). Historically toxins of plants and fungi, carcasses of animals, infected human corpse, and contaminated blankets have been utilized for bioterrorism (Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (US) Staff 2002). The earliest event in records occurred in sixth century, when the Assyrians poisoned wells with rye ergot that leads to the formation of hallucinogenic drugs. Black Death pandemic in 1346 during Kaffa (Ukraine) siege killed about 25 million Europeans in 5 years. In seventeenth century smallpox virus was inoculated in the blankets in French–Indian war (Riedel 2004). Similar tactics were employed in the first World War (WW1). A clandestine operation was carried out by the Germans during WW1 with the intent to spread anthrax cultures to kill cattle and horses (Christopher et al. 1997). Germans are also alleged to have developed glanders, cholera toxins and wheat fungus as biological weapons (Dudley and Woodford 2002). Japan has used anthrax as a biological weapon against China in 1932 and 1945 (Alibek and Handelman 2000; Harris 2002). Rhodesian security forces are also alleged to have spread anthrax to destroy abrogate African cattle during 1978–1980 (Wilson et al. 2000). While Iraq launched official biological weapon proliferation program in 1991, about 25 ballistic missiles and 200 bombs were laden with biological weapons were made intended to cause mass casualties (Zilinskas 1997). In the period of 1999–2001 there were several attempts by Al-Qaida to establish a laboratory for biological weapons by procurement of anthrax spores (CSS Analysis in Security Policy 2007).

      In addition, biological weapons can be accessed very easily. Pathogens can be isolated from the environment with the help of amateur microbiologists. Bioterrorists can also purchase the bioweapon and use them for notorious purposes. Such bioweapons can be exported to Pakistan very easily through the contractors because Pakistan lacks the technical capacity to deal with such situation. Theologist and ideological goals are not always the cause of terrorism, but they can be used by criminals for blackmailing (Horn 1999).

      One of the greatest challenges regarding bioweapons is the use of appropriate dispersal methodology that must be in conformance to the characteristics that bioweapon has. The dispersal can be brought about by using explosive devices, water/food supplies, animals and insects while inanimate objects like medicines, blood and letters can also be used (Fidler and Gostin 2008).


      Various resources can be used by the non-state actors to obtain a bioweapons for their malicious purposes. Direct enrichment from the natural resources, purchasing the pathogen culture, by forcing a research facility, blackmailing, state biodefence and biological weapons programs and also can acquire the capability of genetic engineering a microorganism to be used a biological weapon using an internet recipe. There is also a possibility of the insiders of the biodefence institute to abuse their work and get access to the sensitive bioweapons or provide information to the non-state actors (Barletta 2002; Choffnes 2002; Ebright and Connell2002). Such incident has already happened … in the United States where the spores of Bacillus anthracis were obtained from the military biodefence facility, and the same were used in mailing the anthrax spore-rich letters (Regalado and Fields 2002). Access control to the pathogen can certainly be an effective ploy to decrease the risk because when the access denial from a pathogen for the non-state actors will negate the chances of any accident. Of[] late, there was an attempt to steal the pathogens from the biodefence lab in Kazakhstan; the mission failed due to physical security measures (CNN 2002).”

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

  44. Lew Weinstein said


    Thanks for your prompt report. We look forward to your report.

    I hope you are taking into account the numerous postings on our CASE CLOSED blog which in my view have completely demolished the FBI’s assertions that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the “sole perpetrator” and fail to prove that he was even involved in any way.


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