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

* Labor Day has come and gone … summer is over … no GAO report

Posted by DXer on September 2, 2014



69 Responses to “* Labor Day has come and gone … summer is over … no GAO report”

  1. DXer said

    FRONTLINE, ProPublica and McClatchy investigate the country’s most notorious act of bioterrorism

    Asia Times – Feb. 25, 2010 – “Doubts cloud closing of anthrax case”

    The New York Times – Feb. 24, 2010 (opinion) – “Haste Leaves Anthrax Case Unconcluded”

    CNN – Feb. 15, 2011 – “Scientific review reaches no conclusion on source of anthrax”

  2. DXer said

    I called Ken Alibek, one of the DARPA-funded Ames researchers and it was he who told me the FBI suspected Al-Timimi of being involved in the anthrax mailings.

    I emailed Dr. Bailey, co-founder with Dr. Alibek of the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense there, and he referred all questions to University counsel. Counsel would neither confirm nor deny anything. Press releases by Alibek’s company, however, showed that work with virulent Ames was done by Southern Research Institute in Frederick, Maryland. (Neither Tom Voss, the former SRI President nor Dave Franz, the former SRI VP, would confirm to me when SRI first acquired virulent Ames. Indeed, DF cut off communication with me after I asked. Director Mueller, when asked to identify the third lab that worked with virulent dried powder Ames, would not identify the lab in open session).

    Dr. Ivins assistant and chief accuser Patricia Fellows left USAMRIID to head the B3 there at SRI. It was actually Patricia, according to Dr. Ivins, who submitted the sample that the FBI claims was false (lacked the 4 morphs).

    I then called Ziyana, Ali Al-Timimi’s wife, to ask what the classified work Ali did for the Navy while at SRA (in 1999 when CB was there also). CB was long in charge of DIA biothreat assessment, with much of his time at USAMRIID, where he was once acting Commander.) Ziyana graciously said she could not talk now – and was subject to consent of counsel. She said she was sure we would be speaking some day. (She is highly educated and I believe a PhD like herself in some non-scientific field). United States District Court Judge Brinkema has numerous pending motions in that case in which Al-TImimi is represented by famed First Amendment attorney Turley.

    According to his first defense committee’s webpage, Al-Timimi had been a former assistant to the White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card (while Mr. Card was at DOT). Andy Card came to oversee the NSA wiretapping program directed and organized around Dr. Al-Timimi, Andy’s former assistant — about which only two DOJ people were privy. I don’t recall offhand ever emailing Andrew Card after he let office and I never called him. But his insights would be fascinating.

    It’s long been my view that Amerithrax represents the greatest failure in intelligence analysis in the history of United States. The discussion by Willman, Garrett and Guillermin — and now Barry Kissin — has been incredibly uninformed relating to Dr. Ayman’s announced plan to use anthrax against United States targets. Professor Guillermin does not even mention Dr. Ayman’s name or discuss Rauf Ahmad’s correspondence with Dr. Ayman produced under FOIA by DIA. Similarly, the fact that they have not addressed the first counselor Judith McLean’s allegations about events in July 2000 — that critically underlay an Ivins Theory — indicate that their discussion of an Ivins Theory also falls critically short.

    I am trying to re-find the link to the video where FBI Director Mueller explained that there was a third lab — in addition to Battelle and Dugway.

    I speculate the third lab was in Maryland given that there is a state statute that FBI Director Mueller may have thought prevented him from discussing it.

    (And, of course, alternatively he might have been constrained simply because it was classified).

    So my guess currently is either SRI or Aberdeen, both located in Maryland. For example, the Federal Eagle envelope was believed to have been purchased in Maryland or Virginia.

    With the third lab identified, perhaps it can be determined whether the so-called (falsely called) “Iraq sample” was made there.

    In developing his theory, Attorney Kissin is like the bloodhound off in the dog grooming parlor.

    Barry should focus on identifying the third lab that made a dried powder out of Ames that has not yet been identified — the lab that FBI Director Mueller could not name in open session before the Congressional committee.

    Otherwise, he and the likes of anti-zionist 911- deniers like Kevin Barrett simply are serving to undermine opposition to an Ivins Theory.

    GAO: Why are the so-called “Iraq sample” and Battelle discussed under the heading about IVINS’ knowledge of reported proposals to start conducting animal challenges at USAMRIID with dried Ames anthrax powder? What consulting did the DARPA-funded researchers at GMU’s Center for Biodefense who came to share a suite with Ali Al-Timimi do for Battelle in 1999? What work with virulent Ames did SRI in Frederick, MD do for those researchers?

    Posted on December 14, 2011

    GAO: Did Patricia Fellows Ever Find the Missing “National Security” Sample That Dr. Ivins Was (Apparently Falsely) Told Was From Iraq Before Moving On To SRI That Summer? Was There An Emailed Response(s) To Dr. Ivins’ Question? Her Deposition Should Not Be Shredded.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 14, 2011

    when did Southern Research Institute (SRI) first obtain virulent Ames and from whom?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 6, 2010

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

    • DXer said

      The Education of Ali Al-Timimi

      Milton Viorst, who knew Ali as a teenager, wrote a fascinating and sympathetic yet balanced portrait in “The Education of Ali Al-Timimi” that appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, June 2006. In Saudi Arabia, Al-Timimi had been mentored by a Saudi-trained Canadian imam Bilal Phillips. (see this week’s news stories about BP). Phillips was Al-Timimi’s Islamic Studies teacher at Manaret Riyadh High School in the early 1980s. Al-Timimi adopted Philips’ view that “The clash of civilizations is a reality,” and “Western culture led by the United States is an enemy of Islam.” Between 1991 and 1993, Phillips relocated to the Mindinao, Philippines, where he taught at an islamic school. In 1993, according to an interview he gave in a London-based Arabic-language magazine interview, Phillips ran a program to convert US soldiers to Islam stationed in Saudi Arabia during the first Persian Gulf War. Phillips was made a proselytization official by the Saudi Air Force. Phillips followed up in the US, with telephone calls and visits intended to recruit the veterans as potential members of Bin Laden’s network. He enlisted assistance from others based in the U.S. and members of Islamic centers all over the US. These conversion specialists financed pilgrimages for US veterans and would later send Muslim clerics in the United States to their homes. Bilal Phillips encouraged some converts from this program to fight in Bosnia in the 1990s. Bilal Phillips explained these recruitment efforts to a London newspaper in Arabic (translated by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service) in an article titled “Jamaican-Born Canadian Interviewed on Islamic Missionary Work Among US Troops”:

      “[redacted] used to coordinate with US intelligence. And, when Croatia closed its borders to Arab volunteers, there were a group of black Americans who completed their training and knew Islam through me. [Redacted] contacted Shaykh Umar Abd-al-Rahman and offered to use this group for sabotage acts inside the United States. The offer was made on the telephone, which apparently was tapped by US intelligence. Shaykh Umar replied by saying: ‘”Avoid civilian targets.’”

      After completing his religious education in Saudi Arabia in Medina, Ali Al Timimi returned to the United States and received a second bachelor’s degree — this time in computer science at the University of Maryland, while also studying software programming at George Washington University. Timimi spoke at IANA conferences in 1993 and 1994. A senior al Qaeda recruiter, Abdelrahman Dosari, also spoke at three IANA conferences in the early 1990s. In December 1993, Al-Dosari (a.k.a. Shaykh Abu Abdel Aziz “Barbaros”) spoke on ‘Jihad & Revival” and exhorted young men to fight for their faithjust as Al-Timimi would later be accused of doing privately with young men in Virginia.

      At the first annual IANA conference in 1993, scheduled speakers included Bilal Phillips, Mohammed Abdul-Rahman from Afghanistan, Mohammad Qutb from Cairo, Gamal Sultan from Cairo, and Abu Abdel Aziz ‘Barbaros’ (Bosnia).

      Mohammad Abdul-Rahman was the blind sheik’s son. The blind sheik soon was sentenced for terrorism relating to WTC 1993 and the “Day of Terror” plot directed at NYC landmarks. In 2000, Mohammed Abdel Rahman, a/k/a “Asadallah,” who is a son of Abdel Rahman, was sitting alongside Bin Laden and Zawahiri and was videotaped encouraging others to “avenge your Sheikh” and “go to the spilling of blood.”

      Mohammad Qutb was Sayyid Qutb’s brother. Egyptian Mohammad Qutb, a renown scholar and activist, taught Bin Laden at university in Saudi Arabia, having emigrated to Saudi Arabia. In the 1970s, bin Laden was taught by Sayyid Qutb’s brother, Dr. Mohammad Qutb, and a Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood member, Dr. Abdullah Azzam. Azzam’s ideas of non-compromise, violent means, and organizing and fighting on a global scale were central to Al Qaeda methods. Qutb, as al-Hawali’s teacher, also strongly influenced al-Hawali. Al-Hawali was sent to prison in 1994.

      Gamal Sultan was a former EIJ member who would seek to start a political party in 1999 with the founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Kamal Habib. They sought to chart a nonviolent course (given the practical reality that the movement had been so infiltrated by the security forces). The blind sheik declined to endorse the venture. In 2000, on a trip to Pittsburgh, Gamal Sultan and his colleagues thought Pittsburgh reminded them of Kandahar given its rolling hills.

      Abu Abdel Aziz ‘Barbaros’ was a well-known holy warrior and fundraiser from Saudi Arabia. In 1994, Abdel Aziz glorified jihad and praised the Pittsburgh magazine Assirat for its interest in holy war. He asked Assirat readers and in a 1995 update, to donate money for holy war. He lauded Dr. Abdullah Azzam, the founder of al-Qaeda. He explained jihad will continue till the day of judgment.” In 1996, he was detained as the primary suspect in the attack on the Dhahran barracks, in which 19 U.S. servicemen were killed. Expert Evan Kohlmann explains: Barbaros was “one of the key individuals responsible for LeT’s formation and development.” He “was a Saudi Al-Qaida member.” Kohlmann writes “In the fall of 1992, a former Al-Qaida lieutenant-turned-government informant attended secret meetings in Croatia chaired by Abu Abdel Aziz (“Barbaros.”). During those meetings, Abu Abdel Aziz talked about his directives from Usama Bin Laden and indicated that Al-Qaida was seeking to use regional jihads such as those in Bosnia and Kashmir as “a base for operations… against al Qaeda’s true enemy, the United States.”

      In 1995 Ali Al Timimi headed an IANA delegation to China together with IANA President Bassem Khafagi and Syracuse oncologist and IANA Vice Chairman Rhafil Dhafir. The IANA condemned the UN women’s rights conference as “an attack on Islam.” They urged Imams worldwide to tell Muslims about “the hidden agenda of this UN Conference, and how to foil the libertine and Westernization movements in the Islamic world.”

      Salafist commentator Umar Lee has explained that in the early 1990s “the most dynamic part of the salafi movement in the DC-area were the students Sheikh Ali al-Timimi who in the 1990’s co-founded a very small group with a small office for an organization called the Society for the Adherence to the Sunnah. In early July 1994, cooperation with Al-Timimi’s Society for the Adherence to the Sunnah, Washington, D.C., IANA held its first annual summer camp in English in Frederick, MD (where the ponds were drained in the Amerthrax investigation). The theme of the camp was “Living the Shahadah in America.” This is what Sheikh Ali was teaching kids at the 1st Annual IANA Summer Camp at a Frederick, MD park:

      “Reflections on the Meaning of Our Testimony of Faith: ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” by Ali Al-Timimi.
      “6 Wage Jihad in the Path of Allah
      “Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, and practice not the true religion (Islam), being of those who have been given the Scripture (the Jews and the Christians) — until they pay tribute readily and have been brought low. (The Qur’an 9:29)
      The Prophet has said:
      I am commanded to fight mankind till they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establish the prayers and pay the charity. When they do that they will keep their lives and their property

      Author Milton Viorst, the father of a boy who knew Al-Timimi as a young teen, wrote: “Dozens of his talks are available on the Internet in text and in audio format. They contain little about Arab concerns with the Arab-Israeli wars, the rivalries between the Arab states, the problems faced by Muslims living in the West, or even the war in Iraq. Rather, they reveal a man who reflects deeply on the Islamic vision of Judgment day, prophecy, the nature of the divine, and fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) — subjects with which he grappled in Medina and in his private reading.” Al Timimi’s lectures (in English after Arabic opening) include “The Negative Portrayal Of Islam In the Media,” “Signs Before the Day of technologies in support of this project.” The webpage for Timimi’s program at the time explained: “Faculty members and graduate students in the Program in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology participate in numerous collaborative efforts including but not limited to the following Laboratories and Research Centers: Center for Biomedical Genomics and Informatics (GMU) , Laboratory for Microbial and Environmental Biocomplexity (GMU) and Center for Biodefense (GMU). Beginning the Spring of 2002, GMU hired Ali to develop a computer program that coordinated the research at several universities, letting him go only after he came under suspicion by the FBI. In Spring 2002, according to salary information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, GMU hired him for $70,000 a year. In 2002, the employment was through the School of Computational Sciences and in 2003, it was through Life Sciences Grants & Contracts.

      The School of Computational Sciences at George Mason is a joint venture between the American Type Culture Collection (”ATCC”) and George Mason. The joint venture is an effort to maximize research efforts by combining the academic and applied approaches to research. The School’s first activity was to teach an ATCC course in DNA techniques adapted for George Mason students. The ATCC is an internationally renown non-profit organization that housed the world’s largest and most diverse archive of biological materials. The Prince William Campus shares half of Discovery Hall with ATCC. ATCC moved to its current state-of-the-art laboratory at Discovery Hall (Prince William II) in 1998. ATCC’s 106,000-square-foot facility has nearly 35,000 square feet of laboratory space with a specialized air handling system and Biosafety Level 2 and 3 containment stations. The ATCC bioinformatics (BIF) program carries out research in various areas of biological information management relevant to its mission. BIF scientists interact with laboratory scientists in microbiology, cell biology, and molecular biology at ATCC and other laboratories throughout the world. ATCC has strong collaborations with a large number of academic institutions, including computational sciences at George Mason University. Through these partnerships, the George Mason Prince William Campus offers George Mason microbiology students an opportunity for students to be involved in current research and gain access to facilities and employment opportunities at ATCC and other partner companies.

      While I’ve not yet found any reference directly confirming Timimi’s room number, the person who inherited his old telephone number (3-4294) is Victor Morozov in the Center for Biodefense. Dr. Morozov, upon joining the faculty and inheriting the phone number was in Rm. 154A, very near Dr. Bailey in Rm 156B. One faculty member who consulted with Al-Timimi suggested to me that Ali instead was Rm. 154B, in the middle of the office suite. GMU Information Services helpfully looked up the listings from 2001 directory. As of October 2001 (when the directory is published according to GMU Information Services), judging from the directory, Al-Timimi was still just a graduate student. Former USAMRIID Deputy Commander and Acting Commander Ames strain anthrax researcher Charles Bailey, in Rm 156B, was given a Gateway desktop computer in mid-March 2001 (upon his arrival) — serial number 0227315480. It was like the one Dr. Alibek would get the next year in 156D. One way to think of proximity analysis — a form of true crime analysis — is the number of feet or inches between 154B and 156B/156D. Another way is to think of it is in terms of the number of feet or inches to the hard drives. You can judge the distance for yourself from a First Floor plan that is available online.

      The December 2007 biodefense PhD thesis explains:
      “Although computers are password protected, anyone can access the computers located throughout the labs. Research results can be recorded on lab computers. Someone wanting to access research results would first have to understand what the numbers meant. Research results are also kept in a lab notebook that is kept in the lab or office. This enables other students to repeat what was already done or to see results.”

      In April 2007, at a talk at Princeton University, Dr. Alibek noted that he felt that

      “[u]nfortunately, the likelihood is very high” of a follow-up to the anthrax mailings of 2001. “And the agent very likely is still anthrax.” “The biggest part of my life now is devoted to cancer and cardiovascular (research). If you work in the biodefense community, good luck to you. I hope you succeed.” Dr. Alibek explained that he had been scrutinized and consulted, and given a polygraph after the anthrax mailings. He said that anthrax likely would be the pathogen favored by terrorists because it is relatively easy to grow and transport. Dr. Alibek suspects it it was “a person who knew from some source how the U.S. manufactured anthrax years and years ago.” He said, “It’s not rocket science.”

      In a separate appeal, the conviction of Al-Timimi’s assistant Chandia affirmed but the 15 year sentence was vacated and remanded for resentencing because of failure to making findings warranting terrorism enhancement. The conviction was reaffirmed by the District Court. He was alleged to have helped a Pakistan group buy components of a UAV.

  3. DXer said

    Is my friend Barry Kissin, in a manner of speaking, in the right suite — just the wrong room?

    Floor plan of suite at GMU’s Discovery Hall in 2001 with Ali Al-Timimi and leading Ames anthrax scientists, who were Battelle aerosol consultants
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 7, 2010

    The Other “Anthrax Weapons Suspect” [Ali Al-TImimi ]

    911 Imam Awlaki’s Call From Grave: Attack With Bioweapons ; Awlaki Was Coordinating With Ali Al-TImimi Who Shared A Suite With the Leading DARPA-funded Ames Researchers
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 4, 2012

    The head of the Amerithrax prosecution Daniel Seikaly pled the Fifth Amendment about leaking the hyped Hatfill stories that derailed the Amerithrax investigation for 7 years. His daughter later came to represent “anthrax weapons suspect” (to borrow defense counsel’s phrase) Ali Al-Timimi pro bono. GAO: Was an apparent conflict of interest avoided on the grounds that her representation began after her father left DOJ? Or was there a continuing appearance of a conflict of interest?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 3, 2011

    The Washington Post, in an article “Hardball Tactics in an Era of Threats,” dated September 3, 2006 summarized events relating to George Mason University computational biology graduate student Ali Al-Timimi. Ali Al-Timimi shared a suite with the leading Ames anthrax researchers — those scientists were aerosol consultants for Battelle.

    “In late 2002, the FBI’s Washington field office received two similar tips from local Muslims: Timimi was running ‘an Islamic group known as the Dar al-Arqam’ that had ‘conducted military-style training,’ FBI special agent John Wyman would later write in an affidavit.

    Wyman and another agent, Wade Ammerman, pounced on the tips. Searching the Internet, they found a speech by Timimi celebrating the crash of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003, according to the affidavit. The agents also found that Timimi was in contact with Sheikh Safar al-Hawali, a Saudi whose anti-Western speeches in the early 1990s had helped inspire bin Laden.

    The agents reached an alarming conclusion:

    ‘Timimi is an Islamist supporter of Bin Laden’ who was leading a group ‘training for jihad,’ the agent wrote in the affidavit. The FBI even came to speculate that Timimi, a doctoral candidate pursuing cancer gene research, might have been involved in the anthrax attacks.

    On a frigid day in February 2003, the FBI searched Timimi’s brick townhouse on Meadow Field Court, a cul-de-sac near Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax. Among the items they were seeking, according to court testimony: material on weapons of mass destruction.”

    Al-Timimi had rock star status in Salafist circles and lectured in July 2001 (in Toronto) and August 2001 (in London) on the coming “end of times” and signs of the coming day of judgment. He spoke alongside officials of a charity, Islamic Assembly of North America (”IANA”) promoting the views of Bin Laden’s sheiks. Another speaker was Ali’s mentor, Bilal Philips, one of the 173 listed as unindicted WTC 1993 conspirators. Bilal Philips worked in the early 1990s to recruit US servicemen according to testimony in that trial and interviews in which Dr. Philips explained the Saudi-funded program. According to Al-Timimi’s attorney, Ali “was referenced in the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing (“Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US”) as one of seventy individuals regarding whom the FBI is conducting full field investigations on a national basis.” The NSA was intercepting communications by Fall 2001 without a warrant.

    At the same time the FBI was searching the townhouse of PhD candidate Ali Timimi, searches and arrests moved forward elsewhere.
    In Moscow, Idaho, FBI agents interviewed Nabil Albaloushi. (The FBI apparently searched his apartment at the same time they searched the apartment of IANA webmaster Sami al-Hussayen, who they had woken from bed at 4:00 a.m.) Albaloushi was a PhD candidate expert in drying foodstuffs. His thesis in 2003 was 350 pages filled with charts of drying coefficients. Interceptions showed a very close link between IANA’s Sami al-Hussayen and Sheikh al-Hawali, to include the setting up of websites, the providing of vehicles for extended communication, and telephone contact with intermediaries of Sheikh al-Hawali. Al-Hussayen had al-Hawali’s phone number upon the search of his belongings upon his arrest. Former Washington State University animal geneticist and nutrition researcher Ismail Diab, who had moved to Syracuse to work for an IANA-spin-off, also was charged in Syracuse and released as a material witness to a financial investigation of the IANA affiliate “Help The Needy.” After the government failed to ask Dr. Diab any questions for nearly 3 months, the magistrate bail restrictions and removed the electronic monitoring and curfew requirements.

    In Moscow, Idaho, the activities by IANA webmaster Sami al-Hussayen that drew scrutiny involved these same two radical sheiks. U.S. officials say the two sheiks influenced al Qaeda’s belief that Muslims should wage holy war against the U.S. until it ceases to support Israel and withdraws from the Middle East. Sami Hussayen, who was acquitted, made numerous calls and wrote many e-mails to the two clerics, sometimes giving advice to them about running Arabic-language websites on which they espoused their anti-Western views.

    According to witness testimony in the prosecution of the Virginia Paintball Defendants, after September 11, 2001, “Al-Timimi stated that the attacks may not be Islamically permissible, but that they were not a tragedy, because they were brought on by American foreign policy.” The FBI first contacted Timimi shortly after 9/11. He met with FBI agents 7 or 8 times in the months leading up to his arrest. Al-Timimi is a US citizen born in Washington DC. His house was searched, his passport taken and his telephone monitored. Ali Al Timimi defended his PhD thesis in computational biology shortly after his indictment for recruiting young men to fight the US in defending against an invasion of Afghanistan.

    Communications between Al-Timimi with dissident Saudi sheik Safar al-Hawali, one of the two fundamentalist sheikhs who were friends and mentors of Bin Laden, were intercepted. The two radical sheiks had been imprisoned from September 1994 to June 1999. Al-Hawali’s detention was expressly the subject of Bin Laden’s 1996 Declaration of War against the United States and the claim of responsibility for the 1998 embassy bombings. He had been Al-Timimi’s religious mentor at University.

    ABC reported in July 2004 that FBI Director Mueller had imposed an October 1, 2004 deadline for a case that would stand up in court. The date passed with no anthrax indictment. Al-Timimi was not indicted for anthrax. He was indicted for sedition. Upon his indictment, on September 23, 2004, al-Timimi explained he had been offered a plea bargain of 14 years, but he declined. He quoted Sayyid Qutb. He said he remembered “reading his books and loving his teaching” as a child, and that Qutb’s teaching was prevented from signing something that was false by “the finger that bears witness.” He noted that he and his lawyers asked that authorities hold off the indictment until he had received his PhD, but said that unfortunately they did not wait. On October 6, 2004, the webmaster of the website Babar Ahmad was indicted. In 2007, the North Brunswick, NJ imam who mirrored the website was indicted (on the grounds of income tax evasion).

    The indictment against the paintball defendants alleged that at an Alexandria, Virginia residence, in the presence of a representative of Benevolence International Foundation (”BIF”), the defendants watched videos depicting Mujahadeen engaged in Jihad and discussed a training camp in Bosnia. His defense lawyer says that the FBI searched the townhouse of “to connect him to the 9/11 attacks or to schemes to unleash a biological or nuclear attack.” Famed head of the former Russian bioweaponeering program Ken Alibek told me that he would occasionally see Al-Timimi in the hallways at George Mason, where they both were in the microbiology department, and was vaguely aware that he was an islamic hardliner. When what his defense counsel claims was an FBI attempt to link Al-Timimi to a planned biological attack failed, defense counsel says that investigators focused on his connections to the men who attended his lectures at the local Falls Church, Va. In the end, he was indicted for inciting them to go to Afghanistan to defend the Taliban against the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan. During deliberations, he reportedly was very calm, reading Genome Technology and other scientific journals. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment plus 70 years.

    Dr. Crockett, who ventured the reason for the silicon encapsulation, was in Room 157 in the picture above, next door to Ali Al-TImimi. She was within spitting distance of the scientist coordinating with Anwar Aulaqi and the sheik who had been subject to OBL’s 1996 Declaration of War — the scientist his counsel says is an “anthrax weapons suspect.”

    In talking about microencapsulation, is my friend, attorney Barry Kissin in the right suite, but the wrong room?

  4. DXer said

    Below in critiquing my friend Barry’s views, I mentioned that in connection to the “Clear Vision” project (which I believe was taken over by the DIA), the USG has known about Dr. Ayman Zawahiri’s intentions since 1998.

    Not so long, Al-Hawsawi, KSM’s assistant who was the 911 logistics person who had anthrax spraydrying documents on his laptop, asked to be represented by an Egyptian attorney Montasser Al-Zayat. Al-Zayat represented blind sheik Abdel-Rahman and was among the first to announce in March 1999 that Ayman Zawahiri intended to use weaponized anthrax against US targets in retaliation for the rendering of EIJ leaders. Al-Zayat at the time was defending key defendants in the trial of the Albanian returnees.

    Thus, for people like Barry’s friend Kevin Barrett (on Iranian TV outlet this week) to seize on the neo-cons knowledge of Dr. Ayman’s intention as evidence of their guilt is baseless.

    The CIA has known of Zawahiri’s plans to use anthrax since 1998, when the CIA seized a disc from Ayman Zawahiri’s right-hand, Ahmed Mabruk, during his arrest outside a restaurant in Baku, Azerbaijan. At the time, Mabruk was the head of Jihad’s military operations. Mabruk was handed over to Egyptian authorities. A close associate and former cellmate in Dagestan in 1996, Mabruk was at Ayman’s side while Ayman would fall to his knees during trial and weep and invoke Allah. Their captors reportedly did not know the true identity of the prisoners.

    After Mabruk’s capture in Baku, Azerbaijan, the CIA refused to give the FBI Mabruk’s laptop. FBI’s Bin Laden expert John O’Neill, head of the FBI’s New York office, tried to get around this by sending an agent to Azerbaijan to get copies of the computer files from the Azerbaijan government. The FBI finally got the files after O’Neill persuaded President Clinton to personally appeal to the president of Azerbaijan for the computer files. FBI Special Agent Dan Coleman would later describe the laptop as the “Rosetta Stone of Al Qaeda.” O’Neill died on 9/11 in his role as head of World Trade Center security. He died with the knowledge that Ayman Zawahiri planned to attack US targets with anthrax — and that Zawahiri does not make a threat that he does not intend to try to keep.

    Mabruk claimed that Zawahiri intended to use anthrax against US targets. At the time, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (”DTRA”) set up a program at Lawrence Livermore to combat the Bin Laden anthrax threat. The CIA also snatched Egyptian Al-Najjar, another senior Al Qaeda member (a shura or policy-making council member no less) who had been working for the Egyptian intelligence services. Al-Najjar confirmed Ayman’s intent to use weaponized anthrax against US targets in connection with the detention of militant islamists in a sworn lengthy confession. Even Zawahiri’s friend, Cairo lawyer Montasser al-Zayat, who was the blind sheik’s attorney, in March 1999 said that Bin Laden and Zawahiri were likely to resort to the biological and chemical agents they possessed given the extradition pressure senior Al Qaeda leaders faced. That week, and thoughout that year, Al-Zayat was in touch by telephone with US Post Office employee Sattar and Islamic Group leaders about the group’s strategy to free the blind sheik. An islamist who had been a close associate of Zawahiri later would explain that Zawahiri spent a decade and had made 15 separate attempts to recruit the necessary expertise to weaponize anthrax in Russia and the Middle East.

    Mabruk was in regular contact with Mahmoud Jaballah, who was in Toronto beginning May 1996. Although Mabruk changed his location every few months, Jaballah kept aware of his whereabouts through his contacts with Jaballah’s brother-in-law Shehata. Shehata was in charge of EIJ’s “special operations.” When Mabruk was arrested and imprisoned in Dagestan along with Zawahiri, Jaballah was told, on December 13, 1996 that Mabruk was “hospitalized.” That is established code for “in jail” and, for example, is the code used by Zawahiri in emails on the same subject. Jaballah raised funds for Mabruk’s release and coordinated these collection efforts with Shehata. Indeed, it was Jaballah’s brother-in-law Shehata who brought the money to Dagestan to arrange for Zawahiri’s and Mabruk’s release. Correspondence between Mabruk and Jaballah in 1997 reports on Jaballah’s recruitment efforts. Mabruk, EIJ’s military commander, was pleased. Jaballah confirmed with Shehata and Mabruk his view of the reliability of the individuals he had recruited. His recruits were affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Zawahiri and the Vanguards of Conquest were seeking to recreate Mohammed’s taking of mecca by a small band through violent attacks on Egyptian leaders. By the late 1990s, Zawahiri had determined that the Egyptian Islamic Jihad should focus on its struggle against the United States and hold off on further attacks against the Egyptian regime.

  5. richard rowley said

    Geen Day song seems appropriate! “Wake Me Up When September Ends”

    Summer has come and passed
    The innocent can never last
    wake me up when September ends

    like my father’s come to pass
    seven years has gone so fast
    wake me up when September ends

    here comes the rain again
    falling from the stars
    drenched in my pain again
    becoming who we are

    as my memory rests
    but never forgets what I lost
    wake me up when September ends

    summer has come and passed
    the innocent can never last
    wake me up when September ends

    ring out the bells again
    like we did when spring began
    wake me up when September ends

    here comes the rain again
    falling from the stars
    drenched in my pain again
    becoming who we are

    as my memory rests
    but never forgets what I lost
    wake me up when September ends

    Summer has come and passed
    The innocent can never last
    wake me up when September ends

    like my father’s come to pass
    twenty years has gone so fast
    wake me up when September ends
    wake me up when September ends
    wake me up when September ends

  6. DXer said

    In Part 4, Graeme Macqueen points out, using a nice graphic, that 14 out of 19 hijackers had connections to Florida. He then notes that Stevens, the first infection, was right in the midst of those hijackers.

    He also has a nice graphic showing the connections between the editor’s wife and a couple hijackers. He doesn’t think it is a coincidence.

    But then he uses to argue that the US military is responsible rather than Al Qaeda! He also points to the hijacker inquiries about cropdusters.

    He then uses that to argue that the US military is responsible rather than Al Qaeda!

    F—- incredible.

    Several years before 9/11 the CIA learned that Bin Laden wanted to spray deadly agents using a cropduster — from his pilot.

    The CIA concluded: “We believe that al-Qaida has explored the possibility of using agricultural aircraft for large-area dissemination of biological warfare agents such as anthrax.” –CIA, May 2003.

    Anthrax Lab Director Yazid Sufaat Wrote This Letter Of Introduction For Zacarias Moussaoui, Who Made The Cropduster Inquiries
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 23, 2012

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

    • DXer said

      One hijacker even had brought a souvenir to Florida from Kandahar.

      Yazid Sufaat’s lab was at Kandahar. A fellow named Ahmed Al-Haznawi was at Kandahar until June 2001 when he flew to Florida.

      Ahmed Al-Haznawi, went to the ER on June 25, 2001 with what now appears to have been cutaneous anthrax, according to Dr. Tsonas, the doctor who treated him, and other experts. “No one is dismissing this,” said CIA Director Tenet. Alhaznawi had just arrived in the country on June 8. He had traveled with al Shehri from Dubai, United Arab Emirates via London-Gatwick, England to Miami, Florida. His exposure perhaps related to a camp he had been in Afghanistan. He said he got the blackened gash-like lesion when he bumped his leg on a suitcase two months earlier. Two months earlier he had been in camp near Kandahar (according to a videotape he later made serving as his last Will and Testament). His last will and testament is mixed in with the footage by the al-Qaeda’s Sahab Institute for Media Production that includes Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Sulaiman Abu Ghaith.

      There are some spiders that on rare occasions bite and cause such a blackened eschar (notably the Brown Recluse Spider found in some parts of the United States). But Dr. Tara O’Toole of the Biodefense Center at John Hopkins, now head of biosecurity at Homeland Security, concluded it related to exposure to anthrax. The former head of that group, Dr. Henderson, and National Academy of Sciences anthrax science review panel member, explained: “The probability of someone this age having such an ulcer, if he’s not an addict and doesn’t have diabetes or something like that, is very low. It certainly makes one awfully suspicious.” Although no doubt there are some other diseases that lead to similar sores, it is reasonable to credit that it was cutaneous anthrax considering all the circumstances, to include the finding by the 9/11 Commission that ” in 2001, Sufaat would spend several months attempting to cultivate anthrax for al Qaeda in a laboratory he set up near the Kandahar airport.” Now that Kandahar reportedly is where the extremely Ames DNA was located, it makes it more likely that the Johns Hopkins people were correct that the lesion was cautions anthrax.

      At the time, CBS reported that U.S. troops are said to have found another biological weapons research lab near Kandahar, one focused on anthrax. Some equipment had been removed and others partly destroyed. Only years later did author Suskind claim that in fact there was extremely virulent anthrax at Kandahar — and scientific testing resulted in the Ames DNA. Thus, a factual predicate important to assessment of the Johns Hopkins report on the leg lesion needed to be reevaluated, especially after Hambali’s interrogation in Jordan.

    • DXer said

      The way to prove a cabal is through documentary evidence.

      For example, the head of intelligence for Egyptian Islamic Jihad had a document on his computer seized by the FBI that outlined principles of cell security that would be followed Ali Mohammed was the one who taught former Cairo Medical student Dahab how to send deadly letters.

      Similarly, if you want to know Ayman Zawahiri’s views on covert operations, you can read the book he wrote on the subject.

      Mark A. Gabriel, PhD, once taught at Al-Azhar in Egypt. He wrote a very lucid book Journey Into The Mind Of An Islamist Terrorist. He discusses a booklet Zawahiri wrote titled COVERT OPERATIONS which is available online in Arabic.

      If you want to know how Zawahiri views deceit on such issues as battle plans and spying, read his own words online. Gabriel explains:

      “Ayman al-Zawahiri leads a busy terrorist organization, and he must solve practical problems. For example, he may want some Al-Qaeda members to blend in and live in the United States. If these men wore full beards and went to ultraconservative mosques to pray, they they would arouse suspicion and get put on a watch list. Instead, al-Zawahiri would want these operatives to go undercover and blend into society. However, these devout Muslims will not go undercover unless they believe they have permission to do so from the teachings of Islam. As a result, al-Zawahiri wrote a booklet titled COVERT OPERATIONS, which goes deep into Islamic teaching and history to describe how deceit can be a tool in Muslim life.”

      The entire book by al-Zawahiri is posted in the Arabic language website for al-Tawheed Jihad (The Pulpit of Monotheism and Jihad). Zawahiri concluded that “hiding one’s faith and being secretive was allowed especially in time of fear from prosecution of the infidels.” Indeed, his student group in Cairo in the 1970s was known as the “shaven beards.” The founder of one of the cells merged with Ayman’s to form the Egyptian Islamic Jihad then wrote for Al-Timimi’s charity IANA.

      Al-Zawahiri discussed two specific ways Muhammad used deceit in battle: (1) keeping battle plans secret, and (2) spying. The author writes: “Al-Zawahiri specifically gave radicals permission not to pray in the mosque or attend Friday sermons if it would compromise their position.” He noted that Al-Zawahiri sealed his argument with a very important quote from Ibn Taymiyyah (who was quoted by Al-Timimi upon his his indictment). Ever the practical man, Muhammad approved lying in three circumstances (1) during war, (2) to reconcile between two feuding parties, and (3) to a spouse in order to please her.

      Most of all, if you want to know the views of Al Qaeda’s spymaster Al-Hakaymah about Amerithrax, you can read them.

    • DXer said

      It’s amazing the people commenting on Amerithrax who think of themselves as qualified in analysis of text (or in one poster’s case, porn images) don’t even bother to READ — let alone analyze — the relevant secret correspondence sent relating to Dr. Ayman’s anthrax program.

      from DXer … infiltration of U.S. Biodefense? … Zawahiri’s Correspondence With Infiltrating Scientist Was Part of Parallel Compartmentalized Cell Operation
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 20, 2010

      GAO: On Rauf’s Quest For Virulent Anthrax For Ayman Zawahiri, Was The Second Lab He Visited A BL-3 Lab at Porton Down? Was He Cleared To Go?
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 21, 2012

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

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

    • DXer said

      Barry Kissin’s mistakes are numerous and easily explained.

      First, Barry Kissin’s scientific mistake is not to realize that making a trillion spore powder is a lot easier for a very small amount. The scientific experts who actually make anthrax simulant aerosols don’t agree with him.

      Second, his legal mistake is to suggest that the biodefense projects were illegal under the treaty. The bioweapons and legal experts don’t agree with him.

      Third, his logical mistake was to assume that such biodefense projects were done (e.g., “Clear Vision”) is necessarily proof that the some US military cabal sent the Fall 2001 anthrax letters. Ipse dixit. No need for analysis.

      Instead, that was just Barry’s assumption fueled from the start by his politics — and he’s never bothered to research Al Qaeda’s anthrax program. There was intel about Dr. Ayman Zawahiri’s intention dating to 1998 when EIJ military commander Mabruk’s laptop was seized. Our intelligence agencies would have been negligent had they not acted on the threat in biodefense research. (A program, for example, was launched at Lawrence Livermore by DTRA). For example, for Kevin Barrett not to know that Ayman Zawahiri’s intention to use anthrax against US targets had been announced is extremely uninformed.

      Barry and I have always had friendly correspondence — and I greatly appreciated his expert help with a FOIA request on the silica done by a friend of mine. But he’s never been interested in true crime analysis and he’s told me as much. He’s only been interested in using Amerithrax to advance his political agenda.

      The problem with that approach is that 911 and the “War on Terror” could have been avoided if the dots had been connected and 911 avoided.

      In particular, if there had been sound analysis, the invasion of Iraq could have been avoided because the evidence pointed to Al Qaeda, not Iraq, in connection with both 911 and the anthrax letters.

      The fact that it was “our strain”, without much more, does not get you far at all. Indeed, in such operation, pains would have been taken to AVOID use of the Ames strain. For example, it would have used Vollum, the strain known to have been used by Iraq.

      Has the name “Yazid Sufaat” ever passed Barry Kissin’s lips? The fact that it hasn’t demonstrates well that he has no interested in “truth” — just his political view.

      Politics has no proper role in true crime analysis.

      Barry’s view that because hundreds of Americans had access to the Ames strains means that Al Qaeda did not obtain the strain defies common sense.

      Turning to some substantive points, Barry is misstating what the DOJ Civil Division said. It said that that the equipment was not in Ivins’ B3 — not that it was not at USAMRIID.

      He also says that the USG dried powder projects were done at Battelle and Dugway — without realizing that FBI Director Mueller himself said before the Congressional Committee there was a third lab that made dried powder out of Ames. (He said that it couldn’t be named in open session). Was it SRI? Aberdeen? Some other lab? We may never know because Barry is in 2002 mode and not botheirng to learn the identity of the third lab in 2001 making a dried powder of virulent Ames.

      So I encourage Barry to continue his efforts — but I urge Barry to focus more on documentary evidence and to get his facts right. And to stick to true crime analysis and kick the politics to the curb. Linking and uploading documentary evidence would be a welcome change.

      On a final substantive point, Barry says a terrorist wouldn’t tape the seams. Instead, if Barry actually did document work he would know that the Al Qaeda manual instructing on sending poisonous letters EXPRESSLY advises to take care not to kill the mailman. For example, the manual advises using a silicone sealant on the inside of the envelope to keep it from leaking.

      Discussing the hijacker’s leg lesion — Barry apparently does not know that the guy came from where Yazid Sufaat’s anthrax lab was in Kandahar.

      On crop-dusting, Graeme is channeling Barry on the Johnelle Bryant story.

      You want safe and credible grounds in sorting out the reasons an Ivins Theory is not persuasive? Quote the many, many major media outlets and the USAMRIID scientists — and even FBI consultants — who have said that the FBI’s case was misleading and not persuasive.

      These other folks like Barry and Graeme don’t realize that Al Qaeda was responsible for 9/11. That is very morally offensive as we approach the anniversary of when 3000 died. They are entitled to their political views — but not their own facts.

      Barry is reasoning with his emotions and has intentionally remained uninformed about Al Qaeda’s anthrax program because it didn’t suit his political advocacy. It is precisely such unsound analysis — being led by someone’s politics and emotion — that led, for example, to the invasion of Iraq.

      If you favor peace, favor justice.

      If you favor justice, then do the work and connect the dots — don’t get lazy and just connect with your emotions.

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

    • DXer said

      Here is a source on the instruction in the chapter in the Al Qaeda manual instructing on poisonous letters — and the importance that care be taken to avoid killing the mailman.

      How many times does the chapter have to be cited to the same folks before the tired canard ( “a terrorist would not seal the edges” ) s put to rest?

      Search Results – Transcripts
      Nov 15, 2001 – Inside platitudes give way to precise instruction in a variety of lethal techniques. ” … “Wipe the envelope from the inside with silicone sealant,” it goes on, “so it would not kill the mailman.” In the chapter called …

    • DXer said

      The CIA concluded in a report dated May 2003:

      “We believe that al-Qaida has explored the possibility of using agricultural aircraft for large-area dissemination of biological warfare agents such as anthrax.”

      It is reasonable to be skeptical as to the precise purpose — that is, to not know whether the inquiries contemplated use of the plane as a fuel bomb or dispersal or a chemical, nerve or biological agent.

      My vote might have been for use as a fuel bomb. After 9/11, with tighter security, OBL may have feared that it would be harder to get muscle into the country. OBL and KSM might have wanted to explore an alternative to an airliner bomb.

      Alternatively, maybe such a crop-duster would have been intended to be used to disperse an insecticide modified to be absorbed in the skin. (Chemical engineer Abu Khabab had developed the agent).

      But for Barry and Graeme to suggest the inquiries were somehow evidence of a military-industrial complex cabal is well, simply unfathomable.

      It is as if they don’t know anything about what motivates Atta and Adnan El-Shukrijumah or Zacarias Moussaoui — and imagine them to serve merely as pawns by some evil US elite.

      As to the agent being anthrax, Al Qaeda anthrax lab director Yazid Sufaat’s close relationship with Moussaoui, who made crop-duster inquiries, was worrisome.

      Anthrax Lab Director Yazid Sufaat Wrote This Letter Of Introduction For Zacarias Moussaoui, Who Made The Cropduster Inquiries
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 23, 2012

      In the book LIVING TERRORS, Michael Osterholm and a co-author John Scwartz, a NYT correspondent, had written about dispersal of anthrax by crop-duster in 2000 and Dr. Ayman was widely read in the genre.

      Suspect may have wanted to buy crop-duster plane ……/A...

      The Record
      Sep 25, 2001 – It would be relatively easy to cause thousands of illnesses by spreading bacterial spores or viruses from a crop-duster, said Michael Osterholm, …

      Living Terrors – Amazon
      Dr. Michael Osterholm knows all too well the horrifying scenarios he describes. …. Schwartz write of a disgruntled scientist who loads anthrax into a crop-duster …

    • DXer said

      The most fallacious aspect of Graeme’s and Barry’s position is that it is naive and uninformed to think that Al Qaeda could not have obtained Ames just because it tended to be in labs associated with or funded by the US military. … The reality is that a lab technician, researcher, or other person similarly situated might simply have walked out of some lab that had it.
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 29, 2013

      My friend Ken at least goes after the secret stuff under FOiA. For example, the former top CIA fellow, who went to Harvard, said in a footnote that Jdey had been arrested at the same time as Moussaoui and released. Ken will be seeking what he can obtain under FOIA for when the manuscript was submitted for review.

      When The 9/11 Commission Reported That Jdey Had Been Part Of The “Planes Operation” Planning And Was Connected To Atef, Special Operations Planner Saif Adil, KSM, Lead Hijacker Atta, 9/11 Planner Binalshibh, And Key Hijacker Nawaf al Hazmi, Had The 9/11 Commission Been Told By The FBI That Jdey (With Biology Textbooks) Had Been Detained At Same Time As Moussaoui (With Cropdusting Material Scanned) And That Then Jdey Had Been Released? GAO: Has Amerithrax Been One Big “CYA” Operation From The Very Beginning? Was Jdey The Anthrax Mailer?
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 25, 2012

      There’s lots still secret — lots to obtained by those engaged in document analysis and document discovery rather than emotion-fueled fantasies.

      TOP SECRET – 02/14/2001 – Bin Laden and his associates have experimented by crude means to make and deploy biological agents. Bin Laden has sought to acquire military-grade biological agents or weapons.
      Posted on June 27, 2012

    • DXer said

      I wrote above, in a critique of Barry’s talk in a video linked above:

      “Turning to some substantive points, Barry is misstating what the DOJ Civil Division said. It said that that the equipment was not in Ivins’ B3 — not that it was not at USAMRIID.”

      The issue famously to the location of the lyophlizer in Ivins’ B3 containment suite. US Taylor had said that it was — and that was one of three reasons indicating Dr. Ivins’ responsibility for the murders. But the lyophilizer wasn’t in Ivins’ B3. All the USAMRIID scientists knew that and so I have no idea why US Attorney Taylor didn’t. The large lyophilizer (which was the size of a refrigerator) was elsewhere — and the FBI had proved through time records that Ivins instead was in the B3. (Documents show he was working on an experiment with 52 rabbits).

      Scientists consistently criticized the FBI’s suggestion that Ivins could have used it outside of the B3 containment. But the more basic point is that he was not in the same place as the lyophilizer at the time the FBI claimed he made the powder.

      Justice Department Filings Poke Holes In Ivins’ Case

      Tuesday – 7/19/2011, 2:41pm ET
      The U.S. Department of Justice found itself having to point out holes in its own case against the late Fort Detrick scientist Bruce Ivins, accused of having committed the 2001 anthrax attacks, in order to fend off a civil court case by the family of one of the victims.

      In a series of documents filed in a U.S. District Court in Southern Florida, the federal government seeks to prove it was not liable for the events that unfolded in September and October 2001, when five people were killed and 17 more sickened from anthrax circulated through the mail system.

      In seeking to prove the anthrax attacks were not foreseeable —-and therefore government actions to prevent the attacks could not have been conceived —-the Justice Department says that Robert Stevens, the photo editor for a Florida tabloid, was the first human ever in the United States to be killed in a bioterrorism attack and the first person in the US to die from inhaling anthrax since 1976. It also outlines the rarity of mass murders and the difficulty in predicting them because of the complexity behind a person developing into a mass murderer.

      However, the Justice Department also discusses the anthrax letters themselves, saying it is unclear when preparation of the anthrax attacks began. The Justice Department notes the very points that many have said prove that Ivins could not have committed the attacks: that the anthrax used in the attacks originated from but did not come directly from Ivins’ flask, that the government’s anthrax was “genetically similar, but dissimilar in its form, to the anthrax that resulted in the death of Robert Stevens,” and that the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases “did not have the specialized equipment in a containment laboratory that would be required to prepare the dried spore preparations that were used in the letters.”

      • DXer said

        Department of Justice upholds stance on Ivins
        Megan Eckstein News-Post Staff | Updated Jul 8, 2013

        The revised sentence reads: “Although USAMRIID had equipment that could be used to dry liquid anthrax in the same building where anthrax research was conducted, USAMRIID did not have a lyophilizer in the specific containment laboratory where RMR-1029 was housed to prepare the dried spore preparations that were used in the letters.”

        Many of Ivins’ former co-workers have questioned the government’s theory about him using a lyophilizer elsewhere in the building to dry his stockpile of liquid anthrax. He would have had to carry anthrax outside the contained areas of the building, meaning anthrax spores would likely have dispersed and sickened people in the lab building, they said.

        In seeking to prove the anthrax attacks were not foreseeable, the Justice Department notes that it is unclear when preparation for the anthrax attacks began.

        The Justice Department then highlighted the very points that many have said prove that Ivins could not have committed the attacks:

        • That the anthrax used in the attacks originated from but did not come directly from Ivins’ flask.
        • That the government’s anthrax was “genetically similar, but dissimilar in its form, to the anthrax that resulted in the death of Robert Stevens.”
        • That “it would also take special expertise (even among those used to working with anthrax) to make dried material of the quality used in the attacks,” expertise that many of Ivins’ former co-workers said they didn’t believe he had


        Now go to the August 8, 2008 press conference by US Attorney Taylor and you can see that the DOJ’s position directly contradicts one of the three central premises that US Attorney Taylor says he relied upon in reaching his conclusion Ivins was the murderer.

        An even more fundamental premise that USAMRIID scientists knew to be wrong was that the virulent Ames was stored only in Building 1425.

    • DXer said

      The documentary evidence that Barry Kissin nowhere avails himself of was found in Afghanistan. It states that Al Qaeda was getting its information from the highest levels of the US government and intelligence agencies.

      It further states that the green light had been given for a bio attack.

      Ayman Zawahiri, Anwar Awlaki, Anthrax, and Amerithrax: The Infiltration Of US Biodefense
      Posted on April 12, 2011

      from DXer … infiltration of U.S. biodefense? … Ayman Zawahari’s plan to use anthrax against U.S. targets
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 20, 2010

    • DXer said

      In commenting on Barry Kissin’s awe of the “trillion spore concentration,” I make the familiar point made by Randy Larsen here:

      “A trillion-spore concentration is more difficult to obtain in a large-scale production effort than when produced in very limited quantities, such as the amount used …”

      I have always relied on the likes of Ken Alibek on the point.

      • Our Own Worst Enemy: Asking the Right Questions About …
      Randall Larsen – 2007 – ‎Social Science
      A trillion-spore concentration is more difficult to obtain in a large-scale production effort than when produced in very limited quantities, such as the amount used …

      • DXer said

        Although this work by Aberdeen authors using virulent Ames is extremely sophisticated and lucidly written, the principles are supported by literature that dates almost entirely to pre-2001. Thus, there is much scientific learning on this issue of “trillion spore concentration.” The experts relied upon as authority on the issue should be people who have actually made dried anthracis and anthracis simulants.

        “Wet and dry density of Bacillus anthracis and other Bacillus species M. Carrera1, R.O. Zandomeni2 and J.-L. Sagripanti1;jsessionid=CE477C6455BFD2ABF4CA1907F59203AB.f02t03?v=1&t=hzwgxztb&s=0ada4987b444f7aa9443db3509204e23f28c38ee

        It has been previously established that Bacillus spores in bioaersosols can consist of particles containing only one or a few spores (Carrera et al. 2005). Thus, the aerody- namic characteristics of individual spores are the key to understanding the dissemination of infectious agents after an intentional release such as the attack in the US mail during 2001. Dry aerosols (as from the contaminated letters) as well as wet aerosols (as in micro-drops from patients with infectious diseases) are important in under- standing spore dissemination. The gravitational force pulling down on a bioaerosol is directly proportional to the particle density and the third power of its size (Hinds 1999; Friedlander 2000; Baron and Willeke 2001). The settling velocity of a bioaerosol is linearly related to the density and to the quadratic (second) power of the parti- cle size. The gravitational force and the settling velocity determine the time that an aerosol remains air-borne and therefore, available for human inhalation and concomi- tant infection. In addition, the aerodynamic parameters affect the efficiency of aerosol collectors and the perfor- mance of triggers used in biodefense (Hinds 1999; Baron and Willeke 2001; Kesavan et al. 2007). …

        Besides affecting the aerodynamic behaviour of aerosol- ized spores, density has been shown to correlate with inactivation of spores by heat (Beaman et al. 1982) and with resistance to inactivation by radiation (Beaman et al. 1982; Nicholson et al. 2000). In spite of its relevance to human and veterinary health, as well as to biodefense, the density of virulent B. anthracis spores has not been established, nor compared with other Bacillus spores commonly used as simulants of B. anthracis. Therefore, the goal of this study was to determine the wet and dry densities of B. anthracis and of other Bacillus spores.


        Dry density determination
        The dry density is necessary to predict the aerodynamic properties of dry spores aerosolized from contaminated surfaces. Therefore, Bacillus spores dried and ground to a fine powder were mixed with standard particles of known density and allowed to equilibrate by gravity in linear gradients of two miscible organic (nonaqueous) solvents.


        Effect on aerosolized spores
        The graviational force affecting aerosol particles and the particle-settling velocity are both linearly related to the particle density (Baron and Willeke 2001). Therefore, the settling velocity of the gravitational force affecting wet particles containing wet spores of B. anthracis Ames (average wet density 1Æ165 g ml)1) should be about 5% lower than that of B. subtilis spores by considering only their difference in density. Similar difference (6%) should be expected for dry particles of these same two Bacillus spores. Bacillus antracis Ames has a threefold larger volume than B. subtilis (Table 1) and 70% larger main dimension (Carrera et al. 2007). Then, even larger differ- ences should be expected among different Bacillus spores by considering their differences in volume, as gravita- tional force and settling velocity depend on the third and second powers of the particle size, respectively (Hinds 1999; Friedlander 2000; Baron and Willeke 2001). A quantitative calculation of aerodynamic diameter, settling time and dispersion ratio of aerosolized spores is beyond the scope of this microbiological study.


        The data presented here should assist in the selection of simulants that better resemble properties of B. anthra- cis and, thus more accurately represent the performance of collectors, detectors and other countermeasures against this threat agent.

        … This work was supported by the US Department of Defense Chemical and Biological Defense programme administered by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.”

  7. DXer said

    Graeme MacQueen notes that he is often approached by strangers and told that his view that Al Qaeda was not behind 911 are “nutty” and “outrageous.” 4:51

    Graeme MacQueen, whose field is religious studies, says that the anthrax was way beyond Al Qaeda’s abilities.

    Part 2, 1:52.

    His work has involved projects in Afghanistan — and so I encourage him to seek out and interview the Al Qaeda lab technicians so he can judge whether his assessment of them as hopelessly untalented is warranted..

    Dr. Ayman had 40 doctors in his family. The Egyptian Islamic Jihad and its recruits often were highly educated.

    Ken Alibek, whose field is bioweapons — and various FBI scientists and consultants — have long said that a simple process can result in a sophisticated product.

    In particular, Graeme MacQueen should address Yazid Sufaat’s claim that he was part of a Malaysian Armed Forces biological weapons program and Rauf Ahmad’s claim that he attended annual Porton Down conferences and had learned tricks of processing from one or more attendees.

    Al Qaeda anthrax lab tech says he had been part of Malaysian Armed Forces biological weapons program
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 23, 2012

    The anthrax vaccine lab scientists, for example, worked with live anthrax and buried carcasses away from water supplies.

    Before his recent arrest, Yazid Sufaat declined to tell DXer the strain of the “anthrax spore concentrate” harvested July 4, 2001
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 29, 2013

    Yazid Sufaat, of couse, was connected to 9/11. It was planned in his condo in Kuala Lumpur.

    In February 2002, NEWSWEEK described Al Qaeda anthrax lab director Yazid Sufaat’s role in the 911 attacks that killed 3000 civilians.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 29, 2013

  8. DXer said

    “Science Needs For Microbial Forensics: Initial International Research Priorities,” 252 pages (2014)

  9. DXer said

    Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science

    The Ames anthrax was said by the FBI to have been in Canada, the UK and Sweden at three labs. Given that the UK is known to have been at both CAMR and Porton Down in the UK, I don’t know how the FBI came up with the number three rather than four. (Source: Peter Turnbull reported comments; he says he gave it to several researchers). I’ve previously discussed, for example, Alibek and Popov report that Russia had Ames. There reportedly was a spy at Ft. Detrick and Dr. Serge Popov explained that a scientist merely needed to request that a pathogen be delivered for research and it would be delivered the following week. (The KGB handler who published a book gave a similar report to the same effect, describing pairs of married infiltrating spies).

    But let’s consider Sweden. Sweden is the largest of the Scandinavia countries.

    These authors from Scandinavia in this 2007 article conclude “little attention had been paid to internal security and the establishment of biosecurity. It was demonstrated that the backgrounds and identities of insiders were rarely checked and that they could have gained access to both pathogen inventory lists and freezers in many facilities. In 81% of pathogen-containing facilities, pathogens were not routinely and centrally accounted for. “

    Please turn to the details of the article for the particulars as to Sweden.
    Biosecurity in Scandinavia

    Published in Volume: 5 Issue 1: April 16, 2007

    This article investigates the extent to which biosecurity measures are recognized and have been implemented in the Nordic countries, in the absence of formalized security standards and legislation. Two trials were undertaken: first, a broad combined biosafety and biosecurity questionnaire survey of the Nordic countries, and, second, a focused on-site audit of 22 facilities, with 94 laboratories, in Denmark. Both trials indicated that external security had been partially implemented but that little attention had been paid to internal security and the establishment of biosecurity. It was demonstrated that the backgrounds and identities of insiders were rarely checked and that they could have gained access to both pathogen inventory lists and freezers in many facilities. In 81% of pathogen-containing facilities, pathogens were not routinely and centrally accounted for. The authors recommend the establishment of a legal framework congruent with international standards and obligations; novel governmental national biosecurity authorities, requiring a fusion of both microbiological and technical expertise and legislative powers; and the formulation of a new code of conduct termed “Good Biosecurity Practice.”

    • DXer said

      6 of the 14 labs studied were from Sweden.

      Here are some highlights:

      50% of the freezers were unlocked.

      In 14 of 16 pathogen-storage areas (88%) of the public sector, cleaning and service personnel had unaccompanied access after working hours on a daily basis.

      Nine of the ten institutions (90%) holding sensi- tive pathogens left cleaning and service personnel to work unaccompanied and with no security clearance.

      Pathogens were not routinely and centrally accounted for in 9 out of 10 (90%) of the facilities holding sensitive bio- logical material.

      Among the 20 pathogen-containing facilities (sensitive and nonsensitive pathogens), agent inventory lists (Table 3, item 14) were not secured in 14 facilities (70%), and in 11 of the facilities (55%) agent inventory lists were kept uncoded in ring binders. In five of the eight (63%) public research and diag- nostic facilities, which in almost all cases had sensitive pathogens, the pathogen lists were freely accessible to the auditor and all people in the laboratory.

      Procedures and policies are necessary to avoid unintentional, poten- tially illegal export of selected pathogens and equipment to countries outside Australia Group Member States.10 Five of 22 facilities (23%) had formulated and implemented such precautions as part of their company policy (Table 3, item 2). Of the ten facilities holding sensitive pathogens, seven (70%) had no such policy. None used material.

      In 2 of the 22 facilities, both involved with production (9%), a biosecurity officer was identified (Table 3, item 1); the rest had no appointed person responsible for imple- menting and maintaining biosecurity. One out of ten (10%) facilities holding sensitive pathogens had a biosecu-rity officer.

      All pharmaceutical companies performed a check on the background of staff members before employment (Table 3, item 3), whereas none of the public institutions systemati- cally confirmed the identities of their new employees.

      Several facilities, primarily univer- sities, had PhD students from numerous countries outside Australia Group member states and made no checks on background and identity before granting access.

      Nine facilities (41%) had no reception desk or checkpoint for registering visitors (Table 3, item 11). One facility had written brochures concerning security regulations for visitors, external craftsmen, service personnel, and the like.

      one fourth of the participants reported that hazardous material storage areas were rarely or never locked, and approximately half of the facili- ties kept storage freezers mostly unlocked. Furthermore, approximately half of the laboratories reported that the keys necessary for unlocking pathogen storage freezers were ac- cessible to everybody in the laboratory during work hours.

      Taken together, these results indicate that the focus has been on implementing external rather than internal or per- sonnel security. The chance of discovering a theft of patho- gens by an insider, who may bypass implemented external security measures, is low, since the majority of laboratories have no standard operational procedure in case of thefts and they have no system for regularly and systematically controlling the amounts and presence of pathogens in the laboratory.

      • DXer said

        Dr. Forsman of UMEA presented on his research at the conference Dr. Ivins helped plan. The conference was held in Maryland in June 2001.
        4th international conference anthrax

        Was this research involving virulent Ames sent to the repository from Sweden conducted in Sweden or Singapore? (I haven’t seen more than the abstract).

        4th International Conference on Anthrax
        Program and Abstracts Book
        June 10 – 13, 2001
        St. John’s College
        Annapolis, Maryland, USA

        Microarray for Genome-Wide
        Analysis of Bacillus anthracis
        Y. TAN
        , M. FORSMAN
        , L. NG
        DSO National Laboratories, Singapore, SINGAPORE;
        National Defense Research Establishment,, Umea,

        The current method for detection and identification of B.
        anthracis uses PCR methods that target a chromosomal
        fragment, Ba813, and virulent-determinant genes carried by the
        two plasmids (pX01 and pX02). It has been postulated that
        virulent strains could spontaneously cure one or both of its
        plasmids, rendering it avirulent. The chromosomal marker has
        recently been found in other environmental Bacillus strain, thus
        reducing the confidence in its usage for identification. The
        identification of individual strains within the species is further
        hindered by the lack of polymorphism within the species.
        Identification of individual strains or typing of B. anthracis
        strains is important for epidemiological study and for following
        the evolution of the pathogen. The aim of our study is to explore
        the use of DNA microarray to perform a genome-wide screening
        for novel biomarkers for identification of B. anthracis and for
        strain typing within the species. An anthrax genome chip was
        fabricated with a shot-gun library of Bacillus anthracis Ames.
        Hybridisations of the chip with the genome of various strains
        reveal gene fragments that could potentially be used for
        identification and typing. From this chip, 536 potential
        biomarkers that show differences in distribution among Bacillus
        species or among the B. anthracis strains studied were
        identified. The clones of interest are in the process of sequence
        determination and the presence or absence of some biomarkers
        in each strain was confirmed by Southern Blot. Our poster will
        discuss the approach employed and the preliminary results

        See also

        Lakartidningen. 2001 Dec 12;98(50):5742-5.
        [Anthrax–the Swedish perspective].
        [Article in Swedish]
        Tegnell A1, Hellers M, Wollin R, Eriksson U, Forsman M, Engstrand L, Elgh F.
        Author information
        The recent occurrence in the USA of deliberate release of virulent Bacillus anthracis in letters sent to three media corporations and to the American senate has led to a great anxiety in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe. Numerous letters have been suspected to contain B. anthracis spores and several have contained powder of different types. In none of the tested letters collected by the Swedish police have we been able to detect anthrax bacilli. Powder containing letters have been tested with either bacterial isolation and/or B. anthracis specific PCR. Anthrax is a disease found naturally in herbivores and is occasionally spread to humans. It is caused by the gram-positive rod B. anthracis that was discovered by Robert Koch in 1876. Beginning in the 1930s many states have developed B. anthracis for use as a weapon. A few releases of the bacteria have been reported before October 2001. B. anthracis causes three forms of disease, cutaneous, pulmonary and gastro-intestinal. The pulmonary form is the most dangerous and may lead to death merely one to two days after onset of severe symptoms. This is due to the rapid growth and release of several potent toxins that engage the immune system and promote tissue destruction. B. anthracis infection can be treated with several antibiotics, among which quinolones and tetracyclins have been recommended. Diagnosis can readily be achieved by microscopy, bacterial isolation and PCR at the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control and the Swedish Defence Research Agency. Antibiotics relevant for treatment of B.anthracis infections are already stockpilled in our country. Further actions to strengthen our capability to deal with bioterrorism are ongoing.

      • DXer said

        In 2009, I posted:

        “At the Annapolis conference organized by Dr. Ivins, a researcher from the National Defense Research Establishment in Umea, Sweden, along with two other scientists from Singapore, presented on a genome-wide analysis of bacillus anthracis. Their paper discusses the virulence plasmids and the Ames strain and so perhaps it was National Defense Research Establishment that had Ames. (An FBI affidavit identified one of the 16 labs known to have had virulent Ames to be in Sweden).

        Dr. Keim has posited that any sample the size in Dr. Ivins’ flask might have the same four mutations and so it important to flesh out these sorts of details. (He notes the hypothesis has not been tested).

        What was the lab visited by the scientist that Ayman Zawahiri’s scientist had attending the 1999 and 2000 conference on dangerous pathogens/anthrax? Senators and Congressman should find out. The scientist infiltrating the conferences for Zawahiri, Rauf Ahmad, described the lab as having thousands of pathogens, including virulent anthrax. He told Zawahiri he had successfully achieved his targets.

        Did Rauf Ahmad also attend the June 2001 conference organized by Dr. Ivins? He regularly attended conferences, I’m told by a friend at DIA, on dangerous pathogens in Europe. Is there any reason to think he did not attend the Annapolis conference? I was given the dates 1999 and 2000 by the head of Sfam in Europe (the equivalent of ASM). But the director did not have record of the conference in 2001 organized by Ivins as sfam was not helping to organize it. ASM was.

        In his correspondence with Ayman, the scientist said he had learned some processing tricks and made some internet connections. Who was he learning tricks on processing from? Instead of having non-experts spend more time parsing hairs on an exosporium, the public should ask that some basic questions be answered. For example, if Zawahiri’s scientist visited a lab with virulent Ames, let’s hear about it. It was when the DOJ/FBI started talking about extraditing him that the ISI balked and stopped cooperating with the CIA.”

        Reatedly, in April 2014, I posted:

        “When I contacted Rauf Ahmad, he wanted money to cooperate.”

  10. DXer said

    FRONTLINE, ProPublica and McClatchy investigate the country’s most notorious act of bioterrorism

  11. DXer said

    McClatchy Newspapers, in collaboration with the investigative newsroom ProPublica and PBS’s Frontline. Greg Gordon works for McClatchy, Stephen Engelberg works for ProPublica and Mike Wiser and Jim Gilmore are with Frontline.

    The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia)

    October 22, 2011 Saturday
    Final Edition

    Was this man the anthrax killer?; Ten years after five people were killed by deadly powder in envelopes delivered by mail, new questions are emerging about whether Bruce Ivins was really responsible for the mayhem

    BYLINE: Stephen Engelberg, Greg Gordon and Jim Gilmore And Mike Wiser, Vancouver Sun


    LENGTH: 3598 words


    Months after the anthrax mailings that terrorized the nation in 2001 – and long before he became the prime suspect – U.S. army biologist Bruce Ivins sent his superiors an email offering to help scientists trace the killer.

    Already, an FBI science consultant had concluded that the attack powder was made with a rare strain of anthrax known as Ames that’s used in research laboratories worldwide.

    In his December 2001 email, Ivins volunteered to help take things further. He said he had several variants of the Ames strain that could be tested in “ongoing genetic studies” aimed at tracing the origins of the powder that had killed five people.

    He mentioned several cultures by name, including a batch made mostly of Ames anthrax that had been grown for him at an army base in Dugway, Utah.

    Seven years later, as federal investigators prepared to charge him with the same crimes he’d offered to help solve, Ivins, 62, committed suicide. At a news conference, prosecutors voiced confidence that Ivins would have been found guilty. They said years of cutting-edge DNA analysis had borne fruit, proving that his spores were “effectively the murder weapon.”

    To many of Ivins’ former colleagues at the germ research centre in Fort Detrick, Md., where they worked, his offer to test the Dugway material and other spores in his inventory is among numerous indications that the FBI got the wrong man.

    What kind of murderer, they wonder, would ask the cops to test his own gun for ballistics?

    To prosecutors, who later branded Ivins the killer in a lengthy report on the investigation, his solicitous email is trumped by a long chain of evidence, much of it circumstantial, that they say would have convinced a jury that he prepared the lethal powder right under the noses of some of the nation’s foremost bio-defence scientists.

    PBS’s Frontline, McClatchy Newspapers and ProPublica have taken an in-depth look at the case against Ivins, conducting dozens of interviews and reviewing thousands of pages of FBI files. Much of the case remains unchallenged, notably the finding that the anthrax letters were mailed from Princeton, N.J., just steps from an office of the college sorority that Ivins was obsessed with for much of his adult life.

    But newly available documents and the accounts of Ivins’ former colleagues shed fresh light on the evidence and, while they don’t exonerate Ivins, are at odds with some of the science and circumstantial evidence that the government said would have convicted him of capital crimes. While prosecutors continue to vehemently defend their case, even some of the government’s science consultants wonder whether a killer is still at large.

    Prosecutors have said Ivins tried to hide his guilt by submitting a set of false samples of his Dugway spores in April 2002. Tests on those samples didn’t display the telltale genetic variants later found in the attack powder and in sampling from Ivins’ Dugway flask.

    Yet records discovered by Frontline, McClatchy and Pro-Publica reveal publicly for the first time that Ivins made available at least three other samples that the investigation ultimately found to contain the crucial variants, including one after he allegedly tried to deceive investigators with the April submission.

    Paul Kemp, who was Ivins’ lawyer, said the government never told him about two of the samples, a discovery he called “incredible.” The fact that the FBI had multiple samples of Ivins’s spores that genetically matched anthrax in the letters, Kemp said, debunks the charge that the biologist was trying to cover his tracks.

    Asked about the sample submissions, as well as other inconsistencies and unanswered questions in the Justice Department’s case, lead federal prosecutor Rachel Lieber said she was confident that a jury would have convicted Ivins.

    “You can get into the weeds, and you can take little shots of each of these aspects of our vast, you know, mosaic of evidence against Dr. Ivins,” she said in an interview. But in a trial, she said, prosecutors would urge jurors to see the big picture.

    “And, ladies and gentlemen, the big picture is, you have, you know, brick upon brick upon brick upon brick upon brick of a wall of evidence that demonstrates that Dr. Ivins was guilty of this offence.”

    Scientists who worked on the FBI’s case do not all share her certainty. Claire Fraser-Liggett, a genetics consultant whose work provided some of the most important evidence linking Ivins to the attack powder, said she would have voted to acquit.

    “I don’t know how it would have been possible to convict him,” said Fraser-Liggett, the director of the University of Maryland’s Institute for Genome Sciences. “Should he have had access to a potential bio-weapon, given everything that’s come to light? I’d say no. Was he just totally off the wall, from everything I’ve seen and read? I’d say yes.

    “But that doesn’t mean someone is a cold-blooded killer.”

    The Justice Department formally closed the anthrax case last year. In identifying Ivins as the perpetrator, prosecutors pointed to his deceptions, his shifting explanations, his obsessions with the sorority and a former lab technician, his penchant for taking long drives to mail letters under pseudonyms from distant post offices and, after he fell into drinking and depression with the FBI closing in, his violent threats during group therapy sessions. An FBI search of his home before he died turned up a cache of guns and ammunition.

    Most of all, though, prosecutors cited the genetics tests as conclusive evidence that Ivins’ Dugway spores were the parent material to the powder.

    Yet the FBI never could prove that Ivins manufactured the dry powder from the type of wet anthrax suspensions used at Fort Detrick.

    It couldn’t prove that he scrawled letters mimicking the hateful rhetoric of Islamic terrorists. And it couldn’t prove that he twice slipped away to Princeton to mail the letters to news media outlets and two U.S. senators, only that he had an opportunity to do so undetected.

    The $100-million investigation did establish that circumstantial evidence could mislead even investigators armed with unlimited resources.

    Before focusing on Ivins, the FBI spent years building a case against another former Army scientist. Steven Hatfill had commissioned a study on the effectiveness of a mailed anthrax attack and had taken ciprofloxacin, a powerful antibiotic, around the dates of the mailings. Then-attorney-general John Ashcroft called Hatfill a “person of interest,” and the government eventually paid him a $5.8-million settlement after mistakenly targeting him. Ivins’ colleagues and some of the experts who worked on the case wonder: Could the FBI have made the same blunder twice?


    Growing up in Ohio, the young Bruce Ivins showed an early knack for music and science. But his home life, described as “strange and traumatic” in a damning psychological report released after his death, left scars that wouldn’t go away.

    The report, written by a longtime FBI consultant and other evaluators with court-approved access to Ivins’s psychiatric records, said Ivins was physically abused by a domineering and violent mother and mocked by his father. Ivins developed “the deeply felt sense that he had not been wanted,” the authors found, and he learned to cope by hiding his feelings and avoiding confrontation with others.

    Ivins attended the University of Cincinnati, staying there until he earned a doctoral degree in microbiology. In his sophomore year, prosecutors say, the socially awkward Ivins had a chance encounter that influenced his life: A fellow student who belonged to the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority spurned him.

    For more than 40 years, even as a married man, Ivins was obsessed with KKG, a fixation that he later admitted drove him to several crimes. Twice he broke into chapters, once climbing through a window and stealing the sorority’s secret code book.

    After taking a research job at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ivins discovered that a doctoral student, Nancy Haigwood, was a KKG alumnus and tried to strike up a friendship. When she kept him at a distance, Ivins turned stalker, swiping her lab book and vandalizing her fiancé’s car and the fence outside her home. Two decades later, when Haigwood received an FBI appeal for scientists nationwide to help find the anthrax mailer, she instantly thought of Ivins and phoned the FBI. Investigators didn’t hone in on him for years.

    When they did, the mailbox in Princeton, which also was near the home of a former Fort Detrick researcher whom Ivins disliked, loomed large.

    “This mailbox wasn’t a random mailbox,” said Edward Montooth, a recently retired FBI agent who ran the inquiry. “There was significance to it for multiple reasons. And when we spoke to some of the behavioural science folks, they explained to us that everything is done for a reason with the perpetrator. And you may never understand it because you don’t think the same way.” Ivins was a complicated, eccentric man. Friends knew him as a practical joker who juggled beanbags while riding a unicycle, played the organ in church on Sundays and spiced office parties with comical limericks. William Hirt, who befriended Ivins in grad school and was the best man at his wedding, described him as “a very probing, spiritual fellow that wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

    Ivins gained self-esteem and status in his job as an anthrax researcher at the U.S. army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md. Even so, his fixations wouldn’t quit.

    He became so obsessed with two of his lab technicians that he sent one of them, Mara Linscott, hundreds of emails after she left to attend medical school in Buffalo, N.Y. Ivins drove to her home to leave a wedding gift on her doorstep. When she left, he wrote a friend, “it was crushing,” and called her “my confidante on everything, my therapist and friend.”

    Later, after snooping on emails in which the two technicians discussed him, Ivins told a therapist that he’d schemed to poison Linscott, but aborted the plan at the last minute.


    USAMRIID was once a secret germ factory for the Pentagon, but the institute’s assignment shifted to vaccines and countermeasures after the United States and Soviet Union signed an international treaty banning offensive weapons in 1969. A decade later, a deadly leak from a secret anthrax-making facility in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk made it clear that Moscow was cheating and prompted the U.S. to renew its defensive measures. Ivins was among the first to be hired in a push for new vaccines. By the late 1990s, he was one of USAMRIID’s top scientists, but the institute was enmeshed in controversy. Worried that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had made large quantities of anthrax before the 1991 Persian Gulf War, president Bill Clinton had ordered that all military personnel be inoculated with a 1970s-era vaccine, not just those in war zones. But soldiers complained of ill health from the vaccine, some blaming it for the symptoms called Gulf War syndrome.

    Later, Karl Rove, political adviser to new president George W. Bush, suggested that it was time to stop the vaccinations. Further, a Pentagon directive – although quickly reversed in 2000 – had ordered a halt to research on USAMRIID’s multiple anthrax-vaccine projects.

    Federal prosecutors say these developments devastated Ivins, who’d devoted more than 20 years to anthrax research that was now under attack.

    “Dr. Ivins’s life’s work appeared destined for failure, absent an unexpected event,” said the Justice Department’s final report on the anthrax investigation, called Amerithrax. Told by a supervisor that he might have to work on other germs, prosecutors say Ivins replied: “I am an anthrax researcher. This is what I do.”

    Ivins’s former bosses at Fort Detrick call that Justice Department characterization wrong. Ivins had little to do with the existing vaccine; rather, he was working to replace it with a better, second-generation version, they say.

    In the summer of 2001, Ivins shouldn’t have had any worries about his future, said Gerard Andrews, who was then his boss as the head of USAMRI-ID’s Bacteriology Division. “I believe the timeline has been distorted by the FBI,” Andrews said. “It’s not accurate.”

    Months earlier, Andrews said, the Pentagon had approved a full year’s funding for research on the new vaccine and was mapping out a five-year plan to invest well over $15 million.

    Published reports have suggested that Ivins had another motive: greed. He shared patent rights on the new vaccine. If it ever reached the market, after many more years of testing and study, federal rules allowed him to collect up to $150,000 in annual royalties, and he might have stood to reap tens of thousands of dollars.

    If that was his plan, it didn’t go well. After the attacks, Congress approved billions of dollars for bio-defence and awarded an $877.5-million contract to Vax-Gen Inc. to make the new vaccine, but scrapped it when the California firm couldn’t produce the required 25 million doses within two years.

    Ivins received modest royalty payments totalling at least $6,000. He told prosecutors he gave most of the money to others who worked with him on the project, said Kemp, his defence lawyer.

    Kemp said that prosecutors told him privately that they’d dismissed potential financial returns as a motive. That incentive wasn’t cited in the Justice Department’s final report.


    The relatively lax security precautions that were in place at U.S. defence labs before the mailings and Sept. 11 terrorist attacks offered many opportunities for a deranged scientist. Prosecutors said Ivins had easy access to all the tools needed to make the attack spores and letters.

    Researchers studying dangerous germs work in a “hot suite,” a specially designed lab sealed off from the outside world. The air is maintained at “negative pressure” to prevent germs from escaping. Scientists undress and shower before entering and leaving.

    Like many of his colleagues at Fort Detrick, Ivins dropped by work at odd hours. In the summer and fall of 2001, his night and weekend time in the hot suite spiked: 11 hours and 15 minutes in August, 31 hours and 28 minutes in September and 16 hours and 13 minutes in October. He’d averaged only a couple of hours in prior months. Swiping a security card each time he entered and left the suite, he created a precise record of his visits. Rules in place at the time allowed him to work alone.

    Sometime before the mailings, prosecutors theorize, Ivins withdrew a sample of anthrax from his flask – labelled RMR-1029 – and began to grow large quantities of the deadly germ. If so, his choice of strains seemed inconsistent with the FBI’s portrait of him as a cunning killer. Surrounded by a veritable library of germs, they say, Ivins picked the Dugway Ames spores, a culture that was expressly under his control.

    Using the Ames strain “pointed right at USAMRIID,” said W. Russell Byrne, who preceded Andrews as the chief of the Bacteriology Division and who’s among those who are convinced of Ivins’s innocence. “That was our bug.”

    Federal prosecutors have declined to provide a specific account of when they think Ivins grew spores for the attacks or how he made a powder. But the steps required are no mystery.

    First, he would have had to propagate trillions of anthrax spores for each letter. The bug can be grown on agar plates (a kind of petri dish), in flasks or in a larger vessel known as a fermenter. Rachel Lieber, then an assistant U.S. lawyer and lead prosecutor, said the hot suite had a fermenter that was big enough to grow enough wet spores for the letters quickly.

    To make the amount of powder found in the letters, totalling an estimated four to five grams, Ivins would have needed 400 to 1,200 agar plates, according to a report by a National Academy of Sciences panel released in May. Growing it in a fermenter or a flask would have been less noticeable, requiring between a few quarts and 14 gallons of liquid nutrients.

    Next was drying. Simple evaporation can do the job, but it also would expose other scientists in a hot suite. Lieber said the lab had two pieces of equipment that could have worked faster: a lyophilizer, or freeze dryer, and a smaller device called a “Speed Vac.”

    Investigators haven’t said whether they think the Sept. 11 attacks prompted Ivins to start making the powder or to accelerate a plan already underway. However, records show that on the weekend after 9/11, Ivins spent more than two hours each night in the hot suite on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

    The next afternoon, Monday, Sept. 17, 2001, he took four hours of annual leave but was back at USAMRIID at 7 p.m. Because of their Sept. 18 postmarks, the anthrax-laced letters had to have been dropped sometime between 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday’s noon pickup at a mailbox at 10 Nassau St. in Princeton.

    If Ivins did make the sevenhour round-trip drive from Fort Detrick, he would’ve had to travel overnight. Investigators said he reported to USAM-RIID at 7 a.m. Tuesday for a business trip to Pennsylvania.


    Colleagues who worked with Ivins in the hot suite and think that he’s innocent say he’d never worked with dried anthrax and couldn’t have made it in the lab without spreading contamination.

    Andrews, Ivins’ former boss, said Ivins didn’t know how to use the fastest process, the fermenter, which Andrews described as “indefinitely disabled,” with its motor removed. He said the freeze dryer was outside the hot suite, so using it would have exposed unprotected employees to lethal spores.

    Without a fermenter, it would have taken Ivins “30 to 50 weeks of continuous labour” to brew spores for the letters, said Henry Heine, a former fellow Fort Detrick microbiologist who’s now with the University of Florida. Prosecutors and a National Academy of Sciences panel that studied the case said the anthrax could have been grown as quickly as a few days, though they didn’t specify a method.

    FBI searches years later found no traces of the attack powder in the hot suite, lab and drying equipment.

    Fraser-Liggett, the FBI’s genetics consultant, questioned how someone who perhaps had to work “haphazardly, quickly” could have avoided leaving behind tiny pieces of forensically traceable DNA from the attack powder.

    Lieber, the Justice Department prosecutor, said the FBI never expected to find usable evidence in the hot suite after the equipment had been cleaned multiple times.

    “This notion that someone could have stuck a Q-Tip up in there and found, you know, a scrap of ‘1029’ DNA, I think is, with all due respect, it’s inconsistent with the reality of what was actually happening,” she said.

    Yet in 2007, six years after the letters were mailed, the FBI carefully searched Ivins’s home and vehicles looking for, among other things, anthrax spores. None were found.

    The first round of anthrax letters went to an eclectic media group: Tom Brokaw, the NBC anchor; the tabloid newspaper The New York Post; and the Florida offices of American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer. Just over two weeks later, on Oct. 4, jittery Americans were startled to learn that a Florida photo editor, Robert Stevens, had contracted an extremely rare case of inhalation anthrax.

    Stevens died the next day. As prosecutors tell the story, Ivins would hit the road to New Jersey again as early as Oct. 6, carrying letters addressed to the offices of Democratic senators Patrick Leahy, the judiciary committee chairman from Vermont, and Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the Senate majority leader.

    Unlike the brownish, granular, impure anthrax in the earlier letters, this batch was far purer, with tiny particles that floated like a gas, making them more easily inhaled and therefore deadlier.

    Just a few hours before those letters were dropped at Nassau Street, investigators had a scientific breakthrough: Paul Keim, an anthrax specialist at Northern Arizona University, verified that the spores in Stevens’s tissues were the Ames strain of anthrax.

    “It was a laboratory strain,” Keim recalled later. “And that was very significant to us.”

    On Oct. 15, an intern in Daschle’s office opened a nondescript envelope with the return address “4th Grade, Greendale School, Franklin Park, NJ 08852.” A white powder uncoiled from the rip, eventually swirling hundreds of feet through the Hart Senate Office Building, where dozens of senators work and hold hearings. It would take months and millions of dollars to fully cleanse the building of spores.

    Ill-prepared to investigate America’s first anthrax attack, the FBI didn’t have a properly equipped lab to handle the evidence, so the Daschle letter and remaining powder were taken to Fort Detrick.

    Among those immediately enlisted to examine the attack powder: Bruce Ivins.

    The FBI would turn to Ivins time and again in the months and years ahead. At this early moment, he examined the Daschle spores and logged his observations with scientific exactitude. The quality, he determined, suggested “professional manufacturing techniques.”

    “It is an extremely pure preparation, and an extremely high concentration,” Ivins wrote on Oct. 17, 2001. “These are not ‘garage’ spores.”

    • DXer said

      ProPublica, McClatchy Newspapers and PBS’ “Frontline”October 12, 2011

      WASHINGTON — In early 2002, federal agents who were hunting the anthrax killer were trying to winnow a suspect list that numbered in the hundreds.

      They knew only that they were looking for someone with access to the rare Ames strain of anthrax used in research labs around the world. Profilers said the perpetrator probably was an American with “an agenda.”

      The powder-laced letters, which killed five people, contained no fingerprints, hair or human DNA, but they did offer one solid microscopic clue: The lethal spores in the powder were dotted with genetically distinct variants known as morphs.

      So agents set out on an arduous task: Collect samples from Ames anthrax cultures worldwide, sort through them and find one with morphs that matched the attack powder. Then they’d have a line on where the murder weapon was made and, perhaps, the identity of the killer.

      Bruce Ivins, an Army scientist at Fort Detrick, Md., had a good idea where the inquiry was headed. In the months after the attacks, he’d schooled federal agents in the intricacies of anthrax, explaining how the telltale morphs can arise from one generation to the next.

      In April 2002, Ivins did something that investigators would highlight years later as a pillar in the capital murder case that was being prepared against him before he committed suicide in 2008: He turned over a set of samples from his flask of Ames anthrax that tested negative, showing no morphs.

      Later, investigators would take samples from the flask and find four morphs that matched those in the powder.

      Rachel Lieber, the lead prosecutor in a case that will never go to trial, thinks that Ivins manipulated his sample to cover his tracks.

      However, a re-examination of the anthrax investigation by “Frontline,” McClatchy Newspapers and ProPublica turned up evidence that challenges the FBI’s narrative of Ivins as a man with a guilty conscience who was trying to avoid being discovered.

      Records recently released under the Freedom of Information Act show that Ivins made available a total of four sets of samples from 2002 to 2004, double the number the FBI has disclosed. And in subsequent FBI tests, three of the four sets ultimately tested positive for the morphs.

      Paul Kemp, Ivins’ lawyer, said the existence of Ivins’ additional submissions was significant because it discredits an important aspect of the FBI’s case against his client. “I wish I’d known that at the time,” he said.

      The inquiry

      To understand how investigators eventually came to see almost everything Ivins did or said as proof of his guilt, you have to return to the fall of 2001.

      The FBI wasn’t equipped to handle deadly germs, so the attack powder was rushed to Fort Detrick, the home of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

      From the beginning, Fort Detrick researchers played a prominent role in the inquiry. Ivins was among the most voluble, offering advice and a steady stream of tips about co-workers, foreign powers and former employees who might have carried out the attacks.

      On Dec. 16, 2001, Ivins typed out an email to colleagues offering to provide Ames strain “for genetic analysis or sequencing by whomever.” He offered a sample of the original Ames anthrax taken in 1981 from a Texas cow and a collection of spores sent to Fort Detrick in 1997, mostly from the U.S. Army base in Dugway, Utah. Seven years later, prosecutors announced they were certain the attack powder had been grown with germs from the Dugway flask Ivins was offering for scrutiny.

      John Ezzell, a USAMRIID scientist at the time who assisted the FBI, said in an interview that it was likely that Ivins didn’t think the technology could distinguish among Ames variants. But the record suggests otherwise.

      On Jan. 23, 2002, Ivins gave an FBI agent a detailed tutorial on how to spot morphs in anthrax colonies. A few weeks later, Ivins gave several people the sort of evidence he seemed to be suggesting they collect. He provided a sample to a colleague who wanted to look at the spores under a microscope. Then, on Feb. 27, Ivins drew anthrax from his flask, which he labeled RMR-1029, and provided it to investigators who were assembling the FBI’s worldwide library of anthrax. If prosecutors are right, the murderer had handed over his gun for testing.

      But then the narrative took a strange twist. Perhaps deliberately, perhaps by chance, Ivins placed the spores in the wrong type of glass vessel. Investigators rejected the sample and told him to try again.

      Sometime in the next few weeks, prosecutors contend, Ivins figured out the morphs might trap him. Until then, they assert, he’d assumed the anthrax in his flask was pure and therefore without morphs. But Paul Keim, the scientist who helped the FBI identify the attack strain, said it seemed implausible that Ivins thought his spores were morph-free.

      In April 2002, Ivins prepared a third sample from RMR-1029. Ultimately, this sample tested negative for the morphs. Prosecutors say they’re not even sure that the sample Ivins submitted came from the flask.

      Investigators eventually seized and tested the germs and found they tested positive for the morphs. Separately, they stumbled across a duplicate first submission from February: the material that had been rejected. It, too, was positive.

      Confronting Ivins

      In late April 2002, investigators confronted Ivins about reports that he’d been furtively testing for anthrax spores in his office and other areas outside the “hot suites,” the sealed rooms where researchers worked with deadly pathogens.

      Ivins said that that was true and volunteered that he’d also conducted cleanups in the lab not once, but twice – in December 2001, when he bleached over areas he’d found to be contaminated, and again in mid-April, when he conducted a search for errant anthrax spores.

      These acts violated the lab’s standard procedure, which called for the safety office to investigate and clean up any contamination.

      Ivins asked to help

      In early April 2004, Ivins was asked to help the FBI collect a complete set of cultures from Fort Detrick. Earlier, FBI agents had found 22 vials of anthrax that hadn’t been turned over. On April 6, a lab assistant found a test tube of material that appeared to have been removed from Ivins’ flask.

      The assistant gave the germs to Henry Heine, a colleague of Ivins’ who happened to be in the building. Heine said he checked with Ivins, who told him to send a sample from the tube to the FBI. In an April 6 email, Ivins thanked Heine, acknowledging the anthrax “was probably RMR-1029.”

      Heine views this moment as a sign of his colleague’s innocence, pointing out that Ivins willingly turned over a sample he thought had originated from his flask. Heine said there were no cameras in the building, that FBI agents weren’t monitoring the search and that Ivins easily could have prepared the sample himself and tampered with the evidence.

      A day later, investigators seized Ivins’ flask, locking it in a safe double-sealed with evidence tape.

      What happened next raises questions about the reliability of the FBI’s method for detecting morphs. The bureau separately ordered tests on Heine’s sample and a second one drawn from the same test tube. Records show conflicting results, one negative and one positive.

      McClatchy Newspapers collaborated with ProPublica and PBS’ “Frontline” to produce this series. Gordon works for McClatchy. Engelberg works for ProPublica. Wiser and Gilmore are with “Frontline.”

  12. DXer said

    Frontline and ProPublica joined with McClatchy in doing important work.

    The Vancouver Sun (British Columbia)

    October 25, 2011 Tuesday
    Final Edition

    Was FBI’s science solid enough?; Some wonder if the evidence against alleged anthrax killer would have been tossed by a judge

    BYLINE: Stephen Engelberg, Gary Matsumoto and Greg Gordon And Mike Wiser, McClatchy Newspapers


    In March 2007, federal agents convened an elite group of outside experts to evaluate the science that had traced the anthrax in the letters to a single flask at an Army lab in Maryland.

    Laboratory work had built the heart of the case prosecutors had against Bruce Ivins, a U.S. army researcher who controlled the flask. Investigators had invented a new form of genetic fingerprinting for the case, testing anthrax collected from U.S. and foreign labs for mutations detected in the attack powder. Out of more than 1,000 samples, only eight had tested positive for four mutations found in the deadly germs sent to Congress and the news media.

    Even so, the outside scientists, known as the Red Team, urged the FBI to do more basic research into how and when the mutations arose to make sure the tests were “sound” and the results unchallengeable.

    Jenifer Smith, a senior manager at the FBI’s laboratory, shared the team’s concerns. Smith recalled that she was worried the FBI didn’t have a full understanding of the mutations and might see a trial judge throw out the key evidence. “The admissibility hearing would have been very difficult,” Smith recalled in an interview. “They had some good science but they also had some holes that would have been very difficult to fill.”

    The FBI rebuffed the Red Team’s suggestion, describing it as “an academic question with little probative value to the investigation.”

    Ivins committed suicide in July of 2008 as prosecutors were preparing to charge him with capital murder in the cases of the five people killed by the anthrax mailings. Prosecutors announced that Ivins was the sole perpetrator and that the parent material for the letters had come from his flask.

    Three years later, that assertion remains an open question. A separate panel, from the National Academy of Sciences, found that prosecutors had overstated the certainty of their finding. Committee members said newly available testing methods could prove the FBI’s case much more definitively or lead to other potential suspects. But federal investigators, who closed the case more than a year ago, have expressed no interest in further scientific study of the evidence.

    A re-examination of the anthrax case by Frontline, McClatchy Newspapers and ProPublica has raised new questions about some of the evidence against Ivins.

    Paul Keim, an anthrax expert at Northern Arizona University who assisted in the FBI investigation, said he had qualms about whether the bureau’s laboratory method would have survived a rigorous legal review. “I don’t think that it was ready for the courtroom at the time Bruce committed suicide,” Keim said.

    If Ivins hadn’t killed himself, he said, the FBI would have launched a “hard push” for additional data that showed the methods were reliable. Such research, he said, also could have shown it wasn’t valid.

    Keim, a member of the Red Team, and other scientists involved in the case said the strictures of a criminal investigation prevented them from sharing information as they would on a typical research effort. “Having the best scientific consultants embedded would have been good,” Keim said.

    Smith was the section chief of the intelligence and analysis section in the weapons of mass destruction directorate of the FBI until 2009, and she observed the process from inside. During the anthrax case, she said, the FBI lab departed from its traditional procedures and allowed top investigators to influence how the science was conducted. “There were some political things going on behind the scenes, and it was embarrassing not to have this solved,” Smith said.

    Rachel Lieber, the lead prosecutor, said law enforcement officials did try to make sure the science was rigorously vetted. But she said there were limits and that the science was only a piece of evidence against Ivins. “Are we doing a science project or are we looking for proof at trial? These are two very different standards,” Lieber said.

    Questions about the definitiveness of the scientific findings began to arise soon after prosecutors said Ivins was the anthrax mailer. U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor declared without equivocation in August 2008 that the FBI had proved that Ivins’ flask, RMR-1029, “was the parent source for the spores” used in the mailings.

    At a briefing a few weeks later, the FBI’s lab director, Christian Hassell, was asked to give a “level of confidence” for the findings. “It’s very high,” he replied. “This whole exercise shows that they were traced back to a single flask.”

    Another official at the briefing, who spoke on condition of anonymity as a ground rule, claimed that the Red Team of outside experts had vetted and approved the work and the FBI had heeded its calls for further research. “We invited a cadre of scientists to conduct a Red Team review of the science that we performed, and we took their suggestions,” the official said. “We made additional experiments and the data available to the Red Team at their suggestion. And so all of the science that went behind this was well-reviewed.”

    Critics on Capitol Hill weren’t mollified. Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and one of the intended recipients of an anthrax letter, said he didn’t believe that Ivins had acted alone. So FBI director Robert Mueller announced in September 2008 that a panel of the National Academy of Sciences would conduct an independent review of the scientific findings.

    The FBI didn’t wait for the outcome of those deliberations. In February 2010, with the panel still taking testimony, prosecutors announced that the case was closed, Ivins was the sole perpetrator and RMR-1029 was “conclusively identified as the parent material to the anthrax powder used in the mailings.” Nearly a year to the day later, the outside committee looked at that same evidence differently, saying scientific data “provided leads” as to where the spores had come from, but “alone did not rule out other sources.”

    The tests that identified the flask as the source of the parent spores for the attack showed an association but didn’t “definitively demonstrate such a relationship,” the panel said.

    Early in the investigation, Terry Abshire, a colleague of Ivins’ at the army research facility in Fort Detrick, Md., left spores from one of the letters growing in a dish longer than she’d planned. When she next looked the cultures had small numbers of visually distinguishable colonies, or morphs, which are caused by genetic mutations.

    Morphs that look the same can be caused by different mutations. To create a true genetic fingerprint of the attack powder, scientists had to find and sequence the mutations that spawned the morphs. Then investigators could look for a match with the stocks of anthrax in bio-defence labs. The Ames strain used in the letter attacks had been cultured from a dead cow in Texas in 1981 and the army frequently used it for animal testing of vaccines. The attack powder had multiple morphs.

    When the anthrax samples from U.S. and foreign bio-weapons labs were screened, only 10 out of more than 1,000 tested positive for three or more of the morphs. All came from Ivins’ flask, RMR-1029.

    The FBI’s records show that the tests didn’t always deliver reliable results. In trying to prove that a sample Ivins provided from his flask in April 2002 was deceptive because it contained none of the morphs from the attack powder, investigators sampled the flask 30 times. All came back with at least one morph and 16 came back with all four. Six of them showed only two or fewer, even though they were grown directly from the Ivins culture. The National Academy of Sciences panel’s report raised the possibility that some of the morphs could arise through the process of “parallel evolution,” in which identical mutations occur in separately growing colonies of bacteria.

    Claire Fraser-Liggett, a pioneering genetics researcher, was part of the effort to track the morphs. In August 2008, she sat onstage alongside senior FBI science officials as the findings were presented. By then, she said, the technology had leapfrogged far beyond the techniques used in 2001 and 2002 to compare morphs advanced. Beginning in about 2006, she said, “next generation” sequencing came on line. What cost $250,000 and took one to two months of work in 2001 now could be done for about $150 in a week.

    Fraser-Liggett doesn’t fault the FBI for not switching to an untried technique in 2006. But she said the enhanced precision now available could bring new evidence to light, confirming investigators’ original conclusion or pointing in other directions.

    The case remains a matter of dispute, with prosecutors and law enforcement officials insisting that the combination of science and circumstantial evidence would have been more than sufficient to win a conviction.

    One area of contention revolves around whether the killer tried to add a chemical to make the spores easily inhaled. The FBI had failed to explain the presence of unusual levels of silicon and tin in two of the letters, since those elements aren’t part of the process of growing spores. The FBI says the silicon was present through a natural process, not from any special treatment by Ivins.

    David A. Relman, the vice-chairman of the National Academy study committee and a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said the scientific picture remained incomplete. Relman said the high level of silicon measured in the letter sent to The New York Post remained a “big discrepancy,” one for which the panel received no explanation. None of the spores in Ivins’ flask contained any silicon.

    Relman said the panel questioned FBI officials about whether the high silicon measurement had arisen from an anomaly in the testing.

    Lieber, the prosecutor, said she would have moved to exclude the high silicon reading at trial since it came from a single measurement.

    Had Ivins not committed suicide, his trial likely would have included vigorous sparring over the scientific evidence. Experts probably would have offered conflicting testimony about the reliability and certainty of the genetic tests.


    A three-part series on the investigation into the 2001 attacks.

    Saturday: The FBI’s case

    Monday: New information

    Today: The science

    McClatchy Newspapers, in collaboration with the investigative newsroom ProPublica and PBS’ Frontline. Greg Gordon works for McClatchy, Stephen Engelberg and Gary Matsumoto work for ProPublica, and Mike Wiser and Jim Gilmore, who contributed reporting for this story, are with Frontline.

  13. DXer said

    McClatchy’s reporting has stood the test of time well.

    McClatchy Washington Bureau

    Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune News Service

    April 20, 2011 Wednesday

    Was FBI too quick to judge anthrax suspect the killer?

    BYLINE: By Greg Gordon, McClatchy Newspapers


    WASHINGTON _ Scouring the anthrax-laced mail that took five lives and terrorized the East Coast in 2001, laboratory scientists discovered a unique contaminant _ a microscopic fingerprint that they hoped would help unmask the killer.

    One senior FBI official wrote in March 2007, in a recently declassified memo, that the potential clue “may be the most resolving signature found in the evidence to date.”

    Yet once FBI agents concluded that the likely culprit was Bruce Ivins _ a mentally troubled but highly regarded Army microbiologist _ they stopped looking for the contaminant, after testing only a few work spaces of the scores of researchers using the anthrax strain found in the letters. They quit searching, despite finding no traces of the substance in hundreds of environmental samples from Ivins’ lab, office, car and home.

    It’s been 2{ years since Ivins committed suicide in the face of prosecutors’ threats to charge him with five murders, each carrying a potential death sentence. It’s been more than a year since the Justice Department, despite lacking hard proof, formally declared that Ivins “perpetrated the anthrax letter attacks.”

    But the FBI’s decision not to fully test for the distinct bacterial contaminant, pieced together by McClatchy Newspapers in interviews with scientists, federal law enforcement officials and in a review of recently declassified bureau records, could reignite the debate over whether its agents found the real killer.

    The Justice Department closed the eight-year investigation, said to cost as much as $100 million. However, none of the circumstantial evidence it found showed that Ivins prepared the deadly powder, scrawled “Death to America” in a seeming mimic of al-Qaida, or twice sneaked away on 6{-hour roundtrip drives to drop them in a Princeton, N.J., mailbox.

    If the FBI got the right man, then there is no consequence to its decision to stop hunting for bacillus subtilis, a harmless bacterial contaminant that resembles anthrax. But if Ivins was innocent, then the killer is at large, and the bureau may have missed a big opportunity.

    Some scientists and ex-colleagues of Ivins, who spent 27 years studying anthrax at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., remain convinced of his innocence and believe the FBI erred in limiting the testing.

    “This was not an incidental finding,” said Martin Hugh-Jones, a retired professor of veterinary medicine at Louisiana State University and one of the world’s foremost anthrax experts. “The FBI had what I would call an institutional fingerprint. Whoever had that strain of (bacteria) has to answer to the investigators.”

    Hugh-Jones, who knew Ivins, believes he lacked the expertise to make the anthrax powder. He contends that the bureau “dismissed” the importance of the contaminant, but concedes that “a bit of housekeeping” could have made it untraceable by the time testing began years later.

    One of four federal anthrax investigators, made available to McClatchy on the condition of anonymity, described the contaminant as a clue that “didn’t pan out.” The official said that the bureau tested “thousands” of samples for the substance, but that included 1,057 anthrax samples submitted by various labs. He wouldn’t say how many researchers’ work areas were tested.

    Some 12,000 pages of bureau records made public to date reflect tests on hundreds of samples gathered in searches surrounding Ivins, but little evidence of tests on other researchers’ lab spaces or their stocks of the contaminant.

    “They’ve got thousands of samples, but were they thousands of the right samples?” Hugh-Jones said.

    The mysterious mailing of five anthrax-filled letters to media firms and politicians in New York, Washington and Boca Raton, Fla., killed five people, sickened another 17, and forced 32,000 others to take antibiotics for weeks. Letters sent to Democratic U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Tom Daschle of South Dakota contained a purer, especially deadly anthrax powder, causing lengthy shutdowns of a Senate office building and a major postal facility.

    Occurring shortly after al-Qaida hijackers seized and crashed four passenger jets on Sept. 11, 2001, the mailings ignited fears that Osama bin Laden or Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had loosed a deadly biological weapon.

    Lab tests, however, soon showed that the anthrax in the letters was a strain used solely at 18 U.S., Canadian and European bio-weapons facilities.

    Searching for a domestic perpetrator, FBI agents, postal inspectors and lab scientists seemed to spare nothing in their push to narrow a huge suspect list. Initially, they paid up to $1 million for a single genetic lab test, hastening the development of a new field of microbial forensics.

    FBI agents locked on Ivins after 2007 tests showed a genetic match between the mailed anthrax and spores in a flask in his lab. He’d shared the contents with others. Testing all samples submitted by labs, the FBI found eight with mutations matching those in Ivins’ anthrax, and soon eliminated all suspects but Ivins.

    Colleagues and friends knew Ivins as a first-rate scientist who played the organ at church and livened parties with juggling routines, music and limericks. Even after learning of his decades-long obsession with a college sorority and his threat shortly before his suicide to carry out a mass shooting, some of them challenge the FBI’s decision, after his death, to elevate him from prime suspect to killer.

    “It’s irresponsible,” said Gerry Andrews, who was Ivins’ boss at the time of the mailings.

    “I’d rather have a fallible, but more honest FBI, where they say he’s our number one suspect, but we really don’t know.”

    Andrews insisted, however, that Ivins and his colleagues “didn’t have anything to do with it.”

    Retired Army Lt. Col. Jeffrey Adamowicz, who supervised Ivins in 2003 and 2004, expressed dismay that the search for the contaminant was cut short.

    Adamowicz said that anyone with access to spores from Ivins’ flask _ or to anthrax he shipped to other labs _ needed only “a teeny tiny microscopic drop of that culture to grow their own.”

    Despite the FBI’s cutting-edge work, controversy has followed the “Amerithrax” inquiry.

    One person close to the investigation, who requested anonymity to avoid harming relationships, suggested that FBI officials felt “trapped” by Ivins’ suicide.

    “If they ever had any doubts, once he committed suicide, they had to unite,” this person said. “Otherwise, you’ve driven an innocent man to suicide. And that’s a terrible thing.”

    The law enforcement officials bristled at such assertions, saying that they were seeking Justice Department approval to indict Ivins in the days before he died, but also had risked exposing witnesses to alert his lawyer that he might be a danger to himself or others.

    In February, a National Academy of Sciences panel challenged the bureau’s finding that a genetic match meant that the wet anthrax in Ivins’ flask was the “parent” of the dry powder in the envelopes. The panel said that link wasn’t definitive.

    Meantime, at the request of skeptics in Congress, the Government Accountability Office recently began an extensive review of the FBI’s handling of the inquiry, in which a former Army microbiologist, Steven Hatfill, collected a $5.8 million court settlement after he was mistakenly targeted and publicly identified.

    The law enforcement officials stressed that they agreed Ivins was the mailer based on “the totality of the evidence” gathered in gumshoe investigating, not just lab tests.

    In a 91-page summary of the inquiry last year, the Justice Department alleged that Ivins: feared that Congress might discontinue an anthrax vaccine program to which he’d devoted his career; misled FBI agents in 2002 by providing anthrax samples that weren’t from his flask; had the ability to use the lab’s equipment to dry anthrax into fine powder; and was a night owl in his lab in the weeks before the letters were mailed.

    The FBI got some corroboration last month when an expert panel concluded that Ivins was the killer, after conducting an unusual, posthumous, court-approved review of his psychiatric records.

    Lab scientists didn’t identify the genetically unique strain of b. subtilis until December 2005. It was in letters sent to NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw and The New York Post, but wasn’t in the Senate letters.

    B. subtilis is harmless, but looks and behaves so much like anthrax that researchers have used it to simulate how anthrax spores would act if made into an airborne spray.

    Its presence in the letters, LSU’s Hugh-Jones said, suggests that somebody grew anthrax using equipment contaminated during earlier b. subtilis experiments.

    In March 2007, an FBI advisory panel of six scientists recommended expansive testing for both the mutations in the anthrax and the b. subtilis strain, describing the latter as perhaps the most promising clue to date.

    One of the unnamed law enforcement officials said that the FBI arranged for extensive studies of b. subtilis. It also tested for but didn’t find the contaminant in a lab at the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, which years earlier grew anthrax that went into Ivins’ flask and which also received anthrax from him, the official said. Tests also were conducted in work areas of unidentified parties who were “under investigation,” but weren’t anthrax researchers, he said.

    But once the four mutations in the mailed anthrax were linked to Ivins’ flask, there seemed little value to testing the equipment, countertops and b. subtilis stocks in the labs of researchers whose anthrax didn’t match Ivins’ spores, another of the law enforcement officials said.

    Jacques Ravel, a lab scientist who aided the FBI while with the Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, Md., shrugged off the b. subtilis lead as “a long shot,” saying that the contaminant is found “everywhere” in the air and soil and wasn’t used much at the time by bio-weapons labs.

    However, a 2004 paper in a science journal described a study of b. subtilis by researchers at Dugway, the Battelle Memorial Institute’s operations at Dugway, and the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Unlike Ivins, researchers at Dugway and Battelle both worked with dry anthrax powder.

    Nonetheless, the National Academy of Sciences’ panel accepted the FBI’s finding that the incomplete testing for b. subtilis lead “did not provide useful forensic information.” But, the panel said deep in its report, such clues “should be investigated to their fullest” in the future.

  14. DXer said

    Computer forensics are a potent tool in both Amerithrax and in the nude celebrity investigation.

    For example, in the case of the unfortunate accident involving former FBI Director Freeh — and we wish him a speedy recovery – -the best evidence whether he was talking on his cellphone at the time he went off the road would be his cellphone records.

    Police: FBI Ex-Director Freeh Likely Fell Asleep
    BARNARD, Vt. — Sep 3, 2014, 4:23 PM ET

    “Former FBI Director Louis Freeh likely fell asleep at the wheel and drifted across the road before the car crash last week that severely injured him in Vermont, state police said Wednesday.

    Freeh was interviewed and does not remember why he crashed in Barnard on Aug. 25, Vermont State Police said. His lack of memory, the circumstances of the crash and lack of a mechanical problem means Freeh likely fell asleep, police said, while acknowledging that they may never know what happened.” …

    “State Police Capt. Ray Keefe said police did not consider if Freeh was using a cellphone before the crash, and did not examine his phone, because the accident was not consistent with one of a distracted driver; no brake or swerve marks were left on the road.”

    Is there validated science to support the conclusion that distracted driving would not be the cause absent swerve or skid marks? Or is that is just an unsupported incorrect assertion — such as filled US Attorney Taylor’s August 8, 2008 press conference in which he set forth his conclusions about Bruce Ivins.

    Checking such forensic electronic evidence instills confidence that the authorities are doing all they can to ensure the correct resolution of the issue. No third party was hurt and so the particular case is of small concern; it merely illustrates the point of relying on the best possible forensic evidence. In the case of the car accident, IMO it is easy simply to stop focusing on the road while staring straight ahead — one can fall asleep or simply become lost in thoughts. It happened to me just yesterday when I noticed that I was going 55 rather than 65 after getting on the highway. So absent electronic evidence that a call was in progress, one can conclude that “accidents happen” even without “falling asleep.” Absent electronic evidence of a call, I would have guessed a crossing animal such as a deer or squirrel.

    Former Director Freeh famously obtained a conviction in the Walter LeRoy Moody case of a mailed bomb (to a federal judge) by a whispered statement through a spike mike. So he can appreciate the evidence of electronic evidence and would not want police to close a case without turning to the best evidence.

    In Amerithrax, one would want the FBI to have accessed the best, most probative electronic evidence rather than rely on conjecture and surmise in believing what authorities would like to believe. By way of comparison, that is why Lew uploads all the documents, so that if turns out there is evidence that Bruce Ivins is responsible for the Fall 2001 anthrax mailings, the evidence is publicly available.

    By analogy, the best evidence of whether someone has posted illegal nude celebrity photographs is whether he posted the illegal nude celebrity photographs.

    The fellow who has argued for 13 years that a First Grader wrote the Fall 2001 anthrax letters posted 500 nude celebrity photographs and maintained the archive for a decade at his website.

    His defense? He truly believes they are fake and that he had a right to post them because others did on the forums used for trading pornographic images. He even compiled a book of the images and sent it to publishers. (I’m not kidding; nor am I kidding that he thinks a First Grader wrote the Fall 2001 anthrax letters). Despite my request yesterday, Ed has declined to disclose to the FBI or publicly the trading forums where he obtained them so that they might pick up the trail of those involved in such trading and develop possible leads.

    Birmingham FBI weighs in on terror threat
    Posted: Sep 03, 2014 9:54 PM EDT
    Updated: Sep 03, 2014 10:21 PM EDT
    By Christy Hutchings
    “The message the FBI is sending is if you see something, say something. Stay vigilant and don’t hesitate to call them.”

    Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos have FBI, Lena Dunham on the case
    “We intend to pursue anyone disseminating or duplicating these illegally obtained images to the fullest extent possible,” Lawrence Shire told the website, echoing a statement from Lawrence’s camp, which called the situation “a flagrant violation of privacy” and said the Oscar winner would “prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos.”

    The danger of falling asleep at the wheel and focusing on moving on to a high-paying job is that Al Qaeda attacks like they did on the 911 and the anthrax threat remains unresolved.

    The lesson learned from 911 is: Don’t be afraid of the usefulness of computers and electronic evidence in solving mysteries.

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

  15. DXer said

    I belatedly have located the missing sample of fried virulent anthax powder falsely claimed to have been from Iraq.

    I now understand that I-1 was collected by the FBI on April 13, 2005. 1B 4120 Barcode: E03828055

    It consisted of a tube labeled “I-1 for ________.”

    The samples were sent to the Naval Medical Research Center for testing and storage.

    Some Background:

    GAO: Did Patricia Fellows Ever Find the Missing “National Security” Sample That Dr. Ivins Was (Apparently Falsely) Told Was From Iraq Before Moving On To SRI That Summer? Was There An Emailed Response(s) To Dr. Ivins’ Question? Her Deposition Should Not Be Shredded.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 14, 2011

    Was the sample that Dr. Ivins says he was told was from Iraq — but wasn’t — actually from the dried aerosol project that had been launched at USAMRIID unbeknownst to Dr. Ivins? Who brought it to him? Where did it come from?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 14, 2011

    GAO: Why are the so-called “Iraq sample” and Battelle discussed under the heading about IVINS’ knowledge of reported proposals to start conducting animal challenges at USAMRIID with dried Ames anthrax powder? What consulting did the DARPA-funded researchers at GMU’s Center for Biodefense who came to share a suite with Ali Al-Timimi do for Battelle in 1999? What work with virulent Ames did SRI in Frederick, MD do for those researchers?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 14, 2011

  16. DXer said

    Computer forensics are an important method relied upon by the FBI in both Amerithrax and the identification of members of the underground trading ring of nude celebrity photographs.

    Dr. Ivins’ assistant said they were always making new Ames for experiments and that it was not put into Flask 1029. Mara noted that some experiments were for military purposes — and not intended for publication.

    The problem is not so much what the FBI failed to collect information but in the selectivity with which it has disclosed to the public and GAO — once some prosecutors and investigators became worried that they would get in trouble because of Dr. Ivins’ suicide.

    The WIRED article by Noah Schactman recounted the concern of some investigators that there had been a rush to judgment as the result of Dr. Ivins’ suicide.

    The FBI in Amerithrax was able to obtain the relevant documents after it was provided a July 30, 1999 letter that referenced the study. The documents simply have not been disclosed yet. It was as simple as going to the other researchers listed in the July 30, 1999 letter.

    Even documents that someone has attempted to delete are recoverable by the FBI through computer forensics upon the right lead or pointer. Of course, often first the FBI needs to obtain access to or seize the computer.

    • DXer said

      As of March 17, 2008, the FBI’s review of Dr. Ivins’ email was limited primarily to his email using a USAMRIID address and Microsoft Outlook. Ivins had a personal Hotmail and AOL e-mail account. Source: 3/17/2008 Washington Field memo.

      Just as the FBI did not access the computer records showing he had been at his group therapy session on 9/17/2001 until after his late July 2008 suicide, the FBI had not accessed his personal email from his AOL and Hotmail accounts even months after the November 2007 searches. Source: 3/17/2008 Washington Field memo.

      Yet, the FBI had posited he went to New Jersey to mail letters containing anthrax on the evening of September 17, 2001. Computer forensics would have represented a potent scientific method to use.

      Just as the surest way to obtain evidence of evidence of an underground ring of nude celebrity photographs is through accessing the past email traffic of the pornographers trading photographs of nude celebrities, the best way (after-the-fact) to recreate Dr. Ivins’ time out of the office was through his personal email.

      That would then permit a chronology showing when he necessarily was at his keyboard rather than in New Jersey.

      Indeed, the laptop installed in the B3 suite in the Summer 2001 — which apparently was never located — might have shown Dr. Ivins searching the internet for photographs of nude celebrities.when he was supposedly making a dried powder to send in the mail.

      Locating, seizing and doing computer forensics on the computer is much more powerful than rationalizing conflicting interview statements of people trying to reconstruct events years after the fact.

      What was done to locate the Apple laptop that had been in Dr. Ivins’ lab?
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 13, 2011

  17. DXer said

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

  18. DXer said

    Was it Patricia Fellows who was the lab technician (rather than Ivins’ other assistant, Mara) involved in this “Biological Warfare Decontamination Efficacy Study” for which the notebook went missing?

    Antifoam was first known to have been used in Ames aerosol experiments in Building 1412 in June and August 2001.

    But was antifoam used used for the “Biological Warfare Decontamination Efficacy Study” for which the laboratory technician’s documents went missing?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 11, 2012

    In 2004, USAMRIID Advised The FBI That It Could Not Locate The Documents, Laboratory Notes Or Other Papers Of A USAMRIID Laboratory Technician Who Participated In the “Biological Warfare Decontamination Efficacy Study”. Who Was The Laboratory Technician? What Research Involving The Efficacy Of A Decontamination Agent Was Done?

    Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 5, 2012

    FBI is still withholding from the public and GAO the notebook pages relating to the research involving the virulent Ames spores provided in 1998 to the DARPA researchers studying this decontamination agent described in this August 2012 patent; Flask 1029 distributions to researchers doing work at USAMRIID were not recorded on the Flask 1029 inventory where it was done at USAMRIID.
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 5, 2012

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