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

* the holes in the FBI case against Ivins are huge … will GAO point this out? … when will GAO report?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 10, 2014

The FBI has no case against this man ... but meanwhile he is dead and the real perpetrators are still out there.

The FBI has never had a case against this man … but meanwhile he is dead and the real perpetrators are still out there.

from a recent DXer comment …

DOJ: 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

 

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12 Responses to “* the holes in the FBI case against Ivins are huge … will GAO point this out? … when will GAO report?”

  1. DXer said

    In 2014, this week it is weapons expert Amy Smithson discussing microencapsulation in connection with a laptop in the news. Amy Smithson said:

    “It can wipe out entire cities if they’re using a contagious agent that is micro-encapsulated in that right particle size, yes.”

    Laptop may shed new light on ISIS terror plans
    Brian Todd, CNN, “One of the documents is on biological weapons,” September 11, 2014
    http://wwlp.com/2014/09/11/laptop-may-shed-new-light-on-isis-terror-plans/

    Nearly a decade ago, it was Dr. Kathryn Crockett , a few doors down from Ali-Timimi, in her PhD thesis.

    “The silicon is probably the most important scientific evidence that would lead anybody to question whether Bruce was capable of making these spores,” says Gerald P. Andrews, Bruce Ivins’ former boss. Andrews and George Mason University professor and former Soviet bioweapons researcher Sergei Popov believe — whatever its function or purpose — the silicon was intentionally added, due to unnaturally high levels of the mineral in the spores. The government’s obfuscation of the issue by use of the undefined phrase “naturally occurring” is not helping matters. Dr. Majidi has expressly said that the silica could have been in the culture medium.

    Kathryn Crockett, Ken Alibek’s assistant — just a couple doors down from Ali Al-Timimi — addressed these issues in her 2006 thesis, “A historical analysis of Bacillus anthracis as a biological weapon and its application to the development of nonproliferation and defense strategies.” She expressed her special thanks to bioweaponeering experts Dr. Ken Alibek and Dr. Bill Patrick. Dr. Patrick consulted with the FBI. Dr. Crockett successfully defended the thesis before a panel that included USAMRIID head and Ames strain researcher Charles Bailey, Ali Al-Timimi’s other Department colleague. In 2001 he said he did not want to discuss silica because he did not want to give terrorists any ideas. Oops! Too late. The scientist coordinating with the 911 imam Anwar Awlaki and Bin Laden’s Sheik was 15 feet away.

    Dr. Crockett in her PhD thesis says that scientists who analyzed the powder through viewing micrographs or actual contact are divided over the quality of the powder. She cites Gary Matsumoto’s “Science” article in summarizing the debate. She says the FBI has vacillated on silica. The AFIP data, when it finally was released, confirmed the high level of silica in the first batch of letters. Dr. Alibek emphasized to me that a sophisticated product can be made on a small scale by relatively simple methods.

    On the issue of microencapsulation, Crockett reports that “many experts who examined the powder stated the spores were encapsulated. Encapsulation involves coating bacteria with a polymer which is usually done to protect fragile bacteria from harsh conditions such as extreme heat and pressure that occurs at the time of detonation (if in a bomb), as well as from moisture and ultraviolet light. The process was not originally developed for biological weapons purposes but rather to improve the delivery of various drugs to target organs or systems before they were destroyed by enzymes in the circulatory system” (citing Alibek and Crockett, 2005). “The US and Soviet Union, however, ” she explains, “used this technique in their biological weapons programs for pathogens that were not stable in aerosol form… Since spores have hardy shells that provide the same protection as encapsulation would, there is no need to cover them with a polymer.“ She explains that one “possible explanation is that the spore was in fact encapsulated but not for protective purpose. Encapsulation also reduces the need for milling when producing a dry formulation.” She wrote: “If the perpetrator was knowledgeable of the use of encapsulation for this purpose, then he or she may have employed it because sophisticated equipment was not at his disposal.”

    One military scientist who has made anthrax simulants described the GMU patents to me as relating to a silicon encapsulation technique which serves to increase the viability of a wide range of pathogens. (As I best recall, the US military anthrax aerosol expert I consulted says that the microencapsulation would serve to protect the anthrax from being destroyed by enzymes in the body). More broadly, a DIA analyst (who later worked at the CIA’s CTC) once commented to me that the internal debate seemed relatively inconsequential given the circumstantial evidence that US-based supporters of Al Qaeda are responsible for the mailings.

    Experts like Peter Setlow can consider the source of the reason for the silica. Experts can consider the reason for putting virulent Ames soil (silica) suspension such as the FBI scientist John Ezzell did in 1996 for DARPA for an experiment at Aberdeen. Or as TK did at Houston for the CIA in 2001. Or we can turn to the “Microdroplet Cell Culture” patent filed by Ali Al-Timimi’s Discovery Hall colleagues at the DARPA-funded Center for Biodefense and see if there is a connection. Under that patent, the silica would be in the culture medium used to concentrate the anthrax and then would be removed by repeated centrifugation.

    Or the experts can explore the other hypotheses relating to the reason for the Silicon Signature to include it relating to antifoam in aerosol experiments.

    At a minimum, in terms of government accountability and transparency, it seems that the scientists who advised that the FBI not to pursue the Silicon Signature should be identified (to the extent that their identity is not classified).

    In particular, for example, it should be known if one or more Ali Al-Timimi’s suitemates advised against pursuing the Silicon Signature. But the same goes for Dugway and Battelle which had the genetically matching virulent Ames — and Porton Down that sponsored the annual conferences on anthrax attended by Zawahiri’s infiltrating scientist Rauf Ahmad. Rauf Ahmad says he learned processing tricks through a contact he had made at the 1999 Porton Down-sponsored conference. Do you think the issue of microencapsulation was explored by FBI Agent Borelli in 2002 when he interviewed Rauf Ahmad, as he was being served tea and cookies by Rauf Ahmad at the ISI safehouse?

    Dugway is where the former Zawahiri associate did his aerosol experiment involving the decontaminant.

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

    These aren’t easy issues. As an FBI scientist said (I believe at the science press conference), there are things not being discussed for national security reasons. Although he did not clarify, it makes sense that it is against public policy to discuss how to best discuss the delivery of a pathogen intended to kill. We can be thankful there is a highly-experienced Government Accountability Agency.

    http://wwlp.com/2014/09/11/laptop-may-shed-new-light-on-isis-terror-plans/

    Laptop may shed new light on ISIS terror plans
    One of the documents is on biological weapons

    By Brian Todd, CNN
    Published: September 11, 2014

    According to Foreign Policy Magazine, which accessed the laptop and first reported on it, the computer has documents on how to carry out a mass attack. Among those documents: how to make biological weapons; even how to weaponize the bubonic plague.

    “If they got the agent, got the dispersal method right, can it wipe out whole city blocks?

    “It can wipe out entire cities if they’re using a contagious agent that is micro-encapsulated in that right particle size, yes.”

    According to Foreign Policy, one of the documents on biological weapons says “use small grenades with the virus, and throw them in closed areas like metros, soccer stadiums, or entertainment centers.”

    In another the laptop was the property of a jihadist labeled ‘Muhammad S.’, who joined ISIS after studying at two universities in Tunisia.

    “They confirmed that the guy studied there, physics and chemistry and that he left in 2011 and they don’t know where they went.”

    “What is interesting about this case is this guy has a science background. I mean, he wasn’t just any old schmoe looking into this. Because what you are really concerned about is a scientist really kind of adopting these jihadi ideas.”

    But a U.S. intelligence official says nothing about these documents raises concerns about ISIS’s actual capability to make biological weapons.

    Weapons expert Amy Smithson says the technological hurdles are huge.

    Getting lethal strains, converting them to droplets that people would breathe in, eat or drink, and getting them through sprayers or other delivery systems without killing the organism could well be beyond the reach of ISIS.

    “For each type of biological warfare agent, whether it’s anthrax, botulinum toxin, smallpox, whatever; each one of these agents behaves differently in a fermenter, differently going through a sprayer, different things you’re going to need to do to micro-encapsulate them. So this is not like Shake-n-Bake cooking.”

    • DXer said

      The Smoking Guns of the 2001 Anthrax Attacks, September 15, 2014
      Must-Read: “The 2001 Anthrax Deception”

      http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-smoking-guns-of-the-2001-anthrax-attacks/5401882

      Comment:

      For more authoritative and contemporaneous sourcing on Dark Winter scenario, please see the hearing in late October 2001.

      The Dark Winter scenario and bioterrorism: hearing before the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities of the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, One Hundred Seventh Congress, first session, October 25, 2001
      http://books.google.com/books?id=UGSFw_q6Q4AC&q=Dark+WInter&dq=Dark+WInter&hl=en&sa=X&ei=jPYWVKzlLtHCsASnrIG4DQ&ved=0CC8Q6AEwBA

      For more pertinent background, see the Canadian study of the threat of powdered anthrax reportedly was done in 2001. The powdered anthrax simulant was made at a Wisconsin dairy processor and tweaked at Dugway.

      As Alibek always has said, relatively simple methods can result in a sophisticated product. And as many others have said, know-how travels in the head of a single individual.

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

      More than 80% of the B anthracis particles collected on stationary monitors were within an alveolar respirable size range of 0.95 to 3.5 µm. Thus, the simulant performed very well. The CIA and CSIS apparently feared that the Vanguards of Conquest would use the good stuff. Al Qaeda anthrax lab director, Yazid Sufaat, before being charged recently with terrorism, told me on Facebook that he could perform magic.

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

      Canadian officials explained they e-mailed the study to the CDC soon after reports of the discovery of anthrax at the American Media Inc. headquarters in Florida. The e-mail, however, was never opened, reports the lead CDC anthrax investigator, who regrets that he never read the email. “It is certainly relevant data, but I don’t think it would have altered the decisions that we made.” At one point, about 2,000 CDC employees were working on the anthrax matter. This Canadian report was perhaps the single most important scientific data point for the CDC to take into account. It certainly was one of the most important reports for the FBI to take into account.

      Bail was denied by decision on October 5, 2001. Then highly potent anthrax was sent the next day just as had been promised. But Dr. Ayman Zawahiri apparently had returned to the target of his greatest interest — rather than a Canadian immigration minister, he and Shehata and their colleagues targeted the minister who oversaw the Department of Justice and appropriations to Egypt and Israel, and who gave his name (”the Leahy Law”) to the law that permits continuing appropriations to Egypt in the face of allegations of torture. Zawahiri never makes a threat he doesn’t intend to try to keep.

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

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

      Then the FBI — and AUSA Rachel under pressure from a supervisor — screwed the pooch and the pooch liked it.

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

      Who sent the virulent Ames to Suffield?

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

      Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 22, 2014
      https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/was-this-the-murder-weapon-whose-handwriting-was-this-bruce-ivins-said-the-handwriting-on-this-ames-sent-in-1998-was-not-his/

  2. DXer said

    The Frederick News-Post has had thorough coverage of Amerithrax investigation and has an informative webpage titled “Bruce Ivins and the Anthrax mailings.”

    The owner of the newspaper has emailed to ask that the blog never include the full-text of FNP articles. The links are provided for your convenience at the newspaper’s excellent overview page of the FBI’s “Ivins Theory.”

    There is an interactive timeline.

    The Frederick News-Post deserves great credit for its excellent work in filling the journalistic public service mission.

    http://www.fredericknewspost.com/news/topics/bruce_ivins/

    Bruce Ivins and the Anthrax mailings
    http://www.fredericknewspost.com/news/topics/bruce_ivins/

    Selected Articles

    Scientists who worked with Ivins still question government’s methods

    Scientists who worked with Bruce Ivins said it would have been impossible for him to produce the amount of spores necessary to carry out deadl…
    • posted: July 29

    Questions on anthrax suspect linger

    Microbiologist and anthrax terror suspect Bruce Edward Ivins is still receiving patents for his scientific work nearly five years after his death.
    • posted: July 28

    • Bruce Ivins’ Frederick News-Post letters to the editor

    Dr. Bruce Ivins wrote several letters to the editor. Below is a list of letters he wrote to The Frederick News-Post dating back to April 12, 1997:
    • posted: July 28

    • U.S. to pay $2.5M in anthrax death

    MIAMI (AP) The U.S. government has agreed to pay $2.5 million to the widow and family of a Florida tabloid photo editor killed in the 2001 ant…
    • Updated: July 08

    With security spotty, many had access to anthrax at Fort Detrick

    WASHINGTON — The Army laboratory identified by prosecutors as the source of the anthrax that killed five people in the fall of 2001 was rife …
    • Updated: July 08

    Scientists question anthrax attack findings

    HAGERSTOWN Two scientists say they’ve written a research paper questioning the government conclusion that an Army microbiologist at Fort Detri…
    • Updated: July 08

    Was science up to identifying anthrax killer?

    WASHINGTON — In March 2007, the FBI gathered an elite group of outside scientists to evaluate whether the recently invented science tying ant…
    • Updated: July 08

    Scientists question anthrax attack findings

    HAGERSTOWN Three scientists say theyre preparing a research paper questioning the governments conclusion that an Army microbiologist at Fort D…
    • Updated: July 08

    Senator asks Justice Department for explanation of anthrax investigation of Bruce Ivins

    WASHINGTON A senior Republican senator has asked the Justice Department to explain why its civil lawyers filed court papers questioning prosec…
    • Updated: July 08

    Department of Justice upholds stance on Ivins

    Four days after filing court documents saying that Bruce Ivins did not have the equipment needed to prepare the anthrax powder used in the 200…
    • Updated: July 08

    Justice Department stands by belief in Ivins’ guilt

    The U.S. Department of Justice has found itself having to point out holes in its own case against the late Fort Detrick scientist Bruce Ivins,…
    • Updated: July 08

    • Lessons from Amerithrax

    According to the official account of the anthrax attacks of 2001, Bruce Ivins, senior biodefense researcher at Fort Detrick, single-handedly g…
    • Updated: July 08

    • Expert panel faults Army in anthrax case
    HAGERSTOWN (AP) A court-ordered panel of experts says the Army failed to follow up on signs of mental illness that should have prevented them …
    • Updated: July 08

    • One year after FBI closes Ivins case, doubts still linger

    One year ago, the Department of Justice closed its case against Fort Detrick researcher Bruce Ivins, releasing a 92-page investigative summary…
    • Updated: July 08

    Report casts doubt on FBI’s investigation of anthrax attacks

    WASHINGTON — A National Research Council committee announced Tuesday that conclusions reached by the FBI about the 2001 anthrax attacks are n…
    • Updated: July 08

    • Amerithrax review delayed after FBI releases more documents

    The National Academy of Sciences quietly delayed releasing its evaluation of the science used to link Fort Detrick scientist Bruce Ivins to th…
    • Updated: July 08

    Ivins’ lawyer, colleague share details FBI left out

    Nine years have passed since five people were killed and 17 sickened by anthrax spores mailed to lawmakers and news outlets, and it’s been nin…
    • Updated: July 08

    Ivins case lives on despite FBI judgment

    A group of 25 scientists, professors, writers and terrorism experts convened Monday to discuss and debate the anthrax investigation.
    • Updated: July 08

    Amerithrax experts debate FBI findings, insist Ivins was innocent

    WASHINGTON — The FBI may have closed its Amerithax case against Fort Detrick scientist Bruce Ivins nine months ago, but some experts are not …
    • Updated: July 08

    GAO to review FBI’s Ivins investigation

    The Government Accountability Office has launched an investigation into the scientific methods used by the FBI to determine that Fort Detrick …
    • Updated: July 08


    Co-worker: Ivins didn’t do it

    It is absolutely impossible that Bruce Ivins (left), accused of mailing anthrax and killing five people in 2001, could have created and cleane…
    • Updated: July 08

    Administration rejects call to further probe Amerithrax

    President Barack Obama’s administration is threatening to veto Congress’ intelligence spending bill for this fiscal year, and further investig…
    Updated: July 08

    Holt seeks investigation into FBI’s case against Ivins

    A New Jersey congressman is asking for a congressional investigation into the FBI’s handing of the anthrax attacks.
    Updated: July 08

    Police: Ivins not linked to other unsolved cases
    Local police do not think suspected anthrax mailer Bruce Ivins was involved in any other unsolved criminal cases.

  3. DXer said

    The most stunning redaction was that 28 pages were censored. That chapter dealt primarily with who financed 9/11. The chapter bore on whether those who committed that heinous event had help from a US-baed infrastructure, a support network. He says that whatever reason that justified the redaction at the time, that time has passed. Even at the time, Graham and others who read felt that there was no reason to censor it. He says that disclosure of the information is important for justice. Graham argues that if we are going to learn from the past, so that such events can be avoided in the future, it is important that we have the fullest explanation of events as possible.

    Finally, he notes: absent disclosure, what reason do we have to think that the same network is not available today to launch an attack against the United States?

    9/11 Declassification – Bob Graham supports H. Res 428, March 12, 2014

  4. DXer said

    Here’s the full post:

    DXer said
    September 10, 2014 at 4:29 am

    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

    http://www.fredericknewspost.com/archive/article_dc6ea055-abcb-5446-b9fd-ca2ef5291c2d.html?mode=jqm

    Comment:

    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

      Village Voice (blog) – July 19, 2011 – “Bruce Ivins Maybe Didn’t Send Anthrax, Government Admits in Court Papers”

      http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/07/bruce_ivins_anthrax_fbi_pbs_documentary.php

      Bruce Ivins, who committed suicide in 2008, was officially labeled the Anthrax killer posthumously, accused of killing five people with contaminated letters and spooking all of the post-9/11 United States. Though much of the U.S. press, including the Washington Post and CNN, initially accepted Ivins’s guilt as fact, certain media critics like Salon’s Glenn Greenwald have long questioned the FBI’s version of events. (The Post, along with theNew York Times, would later call for further investigation on their opinion pages.) “[O]ne of the most glaring of the many deficiencies in the FBI’s case is the complete lack of evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, placing Ivins at the New Jersey mailboxes (the proverbial ‘scene of the crime’) on either of the two dates on which the anthrax letters were sent,” Greenwald wrote in the summer of 2008. Lo and behold, in February, the Times and others relayed the findings of a new report which concluded that “the bureau overstated the strength of genetic analysis linking the mailed anthrax to a supply kept by Bruce E. Ivins.” This month, a closer look casts even more doubts.
      PBS Frontline reports, “On July 15 … Justice Department lawyers acknowledged in court papers that the sealed area in Ivins’ lab — the so-called hot suite — did not contain the equipment needed to turn liquid anthrax into the refined powder that floated through congressional buildings and post offices in the fall of 2001.”
      Ivins is “more likely than not” the Anthrax killer, the government maintains. But “Searches of his car and home in 2007 found no anthrax spores, and the FBI’s eight-year, $100 million investigation never proved he mailed the letters or identified another location where he might have secretly dried the anthrax into an easily inhaled powder.”

      A PBS documentary on the case, in association with McClatchy Newspapers and ProPublica, is currently in the works.

    • DXer said

      Legal Statements on Anthrax Mailings Withdrawn
      http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/legal-statements-on-anthrax-mailings-withdrawn/
      July 20, 2011

      The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday withdrew assertions that appeared to question evidence central to a federal investigation’s conclusions on the 2001 anthrax mailings (see GSN, July 19).

      Still, a seven-page update filed by the department does not nullify prior affidavits placing in doubt the government’s determination that deceased U.S. Army microbiologist Bruce Ivins was guilty of carrying out the attacks that killed five people, several news organizations said on Tuesday in a collaborative report published by ProPublica (PBS/ProPublica/McClatchy Newspapers, July 19).

      The department on Tuesday qualified its assertion last week that Ivins “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,” the New York Times reported. The earlier statement was intended to counter a legal challenge by relatives of Robert Stevens, a photo editor at Florida’s Sun newspaper who died in 2001 after breathing in anthrax spores mailed to his employer (Scott Shane, New York Times, July 19). The plaintiffs contend the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., was negligent in securing the anthrax stocks the FBI says were used in the deadly mailings (PBS/ProPublica/McClatchy Newspapers).

      The July 15 statement should have specified that the U.S. Army facility contained a lyophilizer and other systems capable of freeze-drying fluid anthrax samples into dry spores of the type used in the attacks, but that no such apparatus was located in the specific laboratory containment area used most frequently by Ivins, the Times quoted the Justice Department as saying in its Tuesday court filing.

      The department attributed the language of the original filing to a lapse in coordination between its civil and criminal offices, which were respectively responsible for addressing the legal challenge and the years-long probe into the 2001 mailings (Shane, New York Times).

      A number of government specialists, though, questioned the federal position in statements provided under oath for the department’s earlier filing, according to the collaborative report.

      Addressing whether a USAMRIID system could have generated the dried spores for the attacks, technician Stephen Little said: “Not any equipment I have seen.”

      Ivins had “no way” of relocating the apparatus to the containment area, Little added. “The thing is as big as a refrigerator,” he said.

      Scientist Susan Welkos added: “We don’t have any way to produce the massive amount of (anthrax) material that would have been necessary to grow up and dry in a way that wouldn’t have killed everybody in the institute.”

      In addition, the department in its statement last week said Ivins had provided the Battelle Memorial Institute in Ohio and a BioPort laboratory in Michigan with anthrax from the supply the FBI has linked to the mailings. The Tuesday document asserts he had only provided the material to the Ohio site (PBS/ProPublica/McClatchy Newspapers).

      The Justice Department reversal is the most recent hitch in the case that was formally declared closed last year, the Times reported. The department paid millions of dollars to another one-time Army researcher who had been publicly but wrongly identified as a chief suspect in the mailings (see GSN, Nov. 26, 2008). A 2011 National Academy of Sciences report also found fault with some of the FBI’s scientific efforts in the investigation (see GSN, Feb. 15; Shane, New York Times).

    • DXer said

      Justice Department retracts court filings that undercut FBI’s anthrax case
      BY GREG GORDON, MIKE WISER AND STEPHEN ENGELBERG
      McClatchy Newspapers, ProPublica and FrontlineJuly 19, 2011

      WASHINGTON — Rushing into court to undo a major gaffe, Justice Department lawyers defending a civil suit Tuesday retracted statements that seemed to undercut the FBI’s finding that a former Army microbiologist mailed the anthrax-filled letters that killed five people in 2001.

      Although the seven-page correction, filed in federal court in Florida, addresses conflicts between lawyers in the Civil and Criminal Divisions, it does not erase depositions filed by the government that challenged the FBI’s finding that the late Bruce Ivins was the perpetrator.

      The department’s legal dance stems from its two seemingly conflicting roles: backing up the FBI’s finding that Ivins, who committed suicide in July 2008, was the killer and defending an Army bio-weapons lab at Fort Detrick, Md., against allegations of negligence.

      The Civil Division is attempting to limit federal liability over the death of the first anthrax victim, a Boca Raton, Fla., man whose family is seeking $50 million in damages for alleged negligence by the lab at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID).

      In trying to minimize USAMRIID’s liability, government lawyers have had to walk a fine line, because the FBI says Ivins produced the anthrax powder at the facility while the civil lawyers are arguing it could have been prepared elsewhere.

      Tuesday’s retraction came a day after a collaborative report by McClatchy, the Public Broadcasting Service’s “Frontline” news magazine and ProPublica, an investigative newsroom, disclosing what appeared to be an explosive Justice Department revelation.

      In a legal filing last week, department lawyers said that the lab lacked the “specialized equipment in a containment suite” needed for Ivins to have dried the deadly powder.

      That and other statements raised hackles at the FBI and among prosecutors in the case, leading to hurried huddles at the Justice Department.

      In a statement Tuesday, department spokesman Dean Boyd said that Civil Division lawyers had submitted “inaccurate information” and that “the Justice Department and FBI stand behind their findings that Dr. Ivins had the necessary equipment in the containment suite” to produce the spores.

      Boyd noted that Ivins had ordered his own machine, known as a lyophilizer, which could be used for drying anthrax spores into powder. A lyophilizer labeled “property of Bruce Ivins” was located in a nearby containment suite, he said.

      While amending the filing, the Justice Department could not take back what government scientists had said in sworn depositions.

      Stephen Little, a technician at the Army lab, was asked whether the equipment could have been used to make the dried spore preparation used in the letters.

      “Not any equipment I have seen,” Little replied.

      Little said that there was “no way” Ivins could have moved the lyophilizer to the containment suite.

      “The thing is as big as a refrigerator,” Little said.

      Another scientist, Susan Welkos, said, “We don’t have any way to produce the massive amount of material that would have been necessary to grow up and dry in a way that wouldn’t have killed everybody in the institute.”

      Both quotations were highlighted by Justice Department lawyers in their submission to the court last week.

      Friday’s filing also said that Ivins sent anthrax from a flask in his lab — a flask that the FBI contends provided the parent material for the letter anthrax — to two outside laboratories, the Battelle Memorial Institute in West Jefferson, Ohio, and a lab operated by BioPort in Lansing, Mich.

      The amended filing said that Ivins sent the spores only to Battelle, narrowing the number of parties who might have been considered suspects.

      Boyd said that the department and the FBI “have never wavered from that view that Dr. Ivins mailed the anthrax letters.”

      Ivins overdosed on Tylenol and two other drugs not long after learning that federal prosecutors were preparing to indict him on capital murder charges.

      Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/07/19/117864/justice-department-retracts-court.html#storylink=cpy

    • DXer said

      Given the lyophilizer was B5 and not the B3 hot suite, all of the electronic records showing Dr. Ivins’ time in B3 working with the animals serves as an alibi rather than evidence of guilt
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 1, 2012
      https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/given-the-lyophilizer-was-b5-and-not-the-b3-hot-suite-all-of-the-electronic-records-showing-dr-ivins-time-in-b3-working-with-the-animals-serves-as-an-alibi-rather-than-evidence-of-guilt/

      In a Sept 23, 2011 letter to Senator Grassley, the DOJ says that Dr. Ivins made the dried powder in B5 using the lyophilizer even though the DOJ has proved he was in B3 tending to the rabbits, not B5 (the BL-2 lab), at the time the DOJ alleges he made the dried powder. THAT is the contradiction.
      Posted on December 16, 2011
      https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/in-a-sept-23-2011-letter-to-senator-grassley-the-doj-says-that-dr-ivins-made-the-dried-powder-in-b5-using-the-lyophilizer-even-though-the-doj-has-proved-he-was-in-b3-tending-to-the-rabbits-not-b/

      In early 2003, Dr. Ivins explained that the lyophilizer was NEVER out of B5; he explained that he used to make MPL PA vaccine; how could the FBI and US Attorney Taylor have been so confused to suggest that the lyophilizer was in B3 given its large size?
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 13, 2011
      https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/in-early-2003-dr-ivins-explained-that-the-lyophilizer-was-never-out-of-b5-he-explained-that-he-used-to-make-mpl-pa-vaccine-how-could-the-fbi-and-us-attorney-taylor-have-been-so-confused-to-sugge/

      Before Bruce Ivins’ suicide in July 2008, the US Army was preventing Dr. Ivins’ co-workers from communicating with his attorney; key DOJ misapprehensions of the facts (e.g., lyophilizer) could have been avoided had communication been allowed
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 7, 2014
      https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/before-bruce-ivins-suicide-in-july-2008-the-us-army-was-preventing-dr-ivins-co-workers-from-communicating-with-his-attorney-key-doj-misapprehensions-of-the-facts-e-g-lyophilizer-could-ha/

    • DXer said

      Deposition Excerpt of USAMRIID Scientist Stephen Little: Bruce Ivins would not have had skill, equipment, or ability to decontaminate equipment
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 16, 2011
      https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/deposition-excerpt-of-usamriid-scientist-stephen-little-bruce-ivins-would-not-have-had-skill-equipment-or-ability-to-decontaminate-equipment/

      How could Dr. Bruce Ivins have moved the large and heavy lyophilizer (3 shelf Freeze Unitop) HL600 from the B5 into the B3? Would even a single one of the prosecutors or investigators be able to do it?
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 12, 2011
      https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/how-could-dr-bruce-ivins-have-moved-the-large-and-heavy-lyophilizer-3-shelf-freeze-unitop-hl600-from-the-b5-into-the-b3-would-even-a-single-one-of-the-prosecutors-or-investigators-be-able-to-do/

      The lyophilizer in Building 1425 was in Suite B5, not Suite B3 where Dr. Ivins was on the nights in question (where he was doing the study with the 52 rabbits)
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 11, 2011
      https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/the-lyophilizer-in-building-1425-was-in-suite-b5-not-suite-b3-where-dr-ivins-was-on-the-nights-in-question-where-he-was-doing-the-study-with-the-52-rabbits/

      Senator Grassley asks the FBI to explain why it retracted a Justice Department filing (in the Stevens case) that Dr. Bruce Ivins lacked access in his lab to the “specialized equipment” needed to dry wet anthrax spores into airborne powder
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 3, 2011
      https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/senator-grassley-asks-fbi-to-explain-why-it-suppressed-a-justice-department-filing-in-the-stevens-case-that-dr-bruce-ivins-lacked-access-in-his-lab-to-the-specialized-equipment-needed-to-dry/

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