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

* 2015 Report by independent consultants in Europe – “The anthrax attacks in the USA, 2001”

Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 25, 2015

“Tactic:  Tools,  Methods and Training For Communities and Society To Better Prepare For A Crisis,”  March 31, 2015
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“Tactic:  Tools,  Methods and Training For Communities and Society To Better Prepare For A Crisis,”  March 31, 2015
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10 Responses to “* 2015 Report by independent consultants in Europe – “The anthrax attacks in the USA, 2001””

  1. DXer said

    Janet Phelan wrote in a recent essay in google news about Amerithrax:

    “The FBI declined to investigate personnel at either of these other facilities.” [Battelle and Dugway].

    A lot of stupid and uninformed things have been said about Amerithrax but that’s pretty over the top.

    • DXer said

      I normally would contact an author and urge a correction privately but I found no working link for email or comment.

      Let me start with the Perry case study.

      August 10, 2008
      Anthrax Case Had Costs for Suspects

      By WILLIAM J. BROAD and SCOTT SHANE
      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/10/washington/10anthrax.html?pagewanted=print&_r=0

      The bureau began looking at biodefense insiders like Mr. Mikesell, an anthrax specialist who had worked in the 1980s and 1990s with Dr. Ivins at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, in Frederick. He had then joined Battelle, a military contractor in Columbus, Ohio, that became deeply involved in secret federal research on biological weapons.

      In 2002, Mr. Mikesell came under F.B.I. scrutiny, officials familiar with the case said. He began drinking heavily — a fifth of hard liquor a day toward the end, a family member said.

      “It was a shock that all of a sudden he’s a raging alcoholic,” recalled the relative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of family sensitivities.

      By late October 2002, Mr. Mikesell, 54, was dead, his short obituary in The Columbus Dispatch making no mention of his work with anthrax or the investigation. “He drank himself to death,” the relative said.

    • DXer said

      Here is a 302 from an illustrative Battelle interview. The Battelle scientists indicates that a subtilis contaminant had been isolated in spore preparations made at Battelle. The scientist said that the contaminant may still be kept among the frozen stocks at Battelle.

      A discrepancy was noted by the FBI between an email from a Battelle scientist to Bruce Ivins that indicated that sample BAA177 had been depleted on 5/6/04 and other documentation that indicated that the sample was still being used in January 2005.
      At 3:30 p.m.on December 19, 2005 the agent sprang the question about the discrepancy.

      The scientist interviewed said that he believed that sample BAA177 as being BAA178 as being from a single sample. He said he therefore believe BAA177 was contaminated — because BAA178 was found to be contaminated.

      http://vault.fbi.gov/Amerithrax/Amerithrax%20Part%2038%20of%2059

    • DXer said

      One of the most fun leads relating to Battelle was a prolific internet poster who has argued for 15 years that a First Grader wrote the anthrax letters. For half of those years – right up to when an Ivins Theory was unveiled — the child’s accessory-before-the-fact was a Battelle employee who had been discharged. In September 2001 had the cops called on him by his mother who wanted to ward off an angry exchange with a neighbor one day while the son was mowing. He then famously told the officer he had an anthrax weapons lab in his basement. I interviewed the fellow and he was very exasperated by the blogger who thinks a First Grader wrote the letters. No apology was every forthcoming.

      http://s3.amazonaws.com/911timeline/2001/columbusdispatch122101.html

      Anthrax Probe Story Is Baloney, FBI Says

      by Bruce Cadwallader and Catherine Candisky
      The Columbus Dispatch
      December 21, 2001

      The FBI says it is not investigating a former Battelle scientist in relation to an anthrax scare, contrary to national broadcast news reports.

      U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine said he talked to FBI Director Robert Mueller yesterday and was assured that the scientist was not being investigated. ABC News reported otherwise this week. “He said the ABC News report was not true, that ‘The network did not check with us, we have no investigation and no one with or formerly with Battelle is a suspect,’ ” DeWine said.

      The scientist hasn’t been charged and isn’t under investigation, so The Dispatch is not naming him.

      ABC said he was at the heart of an investigation into an anthrax threat soon after Sept. 11.

      The scientist, who said he now works in a bowling alley, told The Dispatch yesterday that agents searched his home in Milwaukee after he made a vague reference to police about anthrax during a dispute with a neighbor.

      He said he later spoke to an ABC producer, denying any involvement with anthrax.

      “I didn’t even know what anthrax was back then,” the scientist said. “My background does not involve biological weapons, and I never worked with anthrax.”

      An Oct. 5 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story quoted FBI agents as saying they seized computer equipment from his home but found no anthrax spores and discontinued the investigation.

      The scientist, who worked at Battelle between March 1983 and April 1999, said his expertise included radioisotopes, military ordnance and decontamination.

      It has been widely reported that Battelle is one of two research facilities in the country authorized to produce weapons-grade anthrax spores. The other is in Utah. Both have been searched by the FBI.

      “We are cooperating fully with the investigation but we can’t comment or provide any specific information on former personnel or an ongoing investigation,” Battelle spokeswoman Katy Delaney said.

      • DXer said

        As the Battelle employee explained at the time, he had not been discharged, but had resigned.

        Dec 20, 2001
        U.S. Scientist Questioned
        Former Researcher Denies Connection to Anthrax Attacks

        W A S H I N G T O N, Dec. 20 — A scientist formerly involved in U.S. anthrax research has told ABCNEWS he is now under investigation by the FBI regarding the recent attacks-by-mail, but has denied involvement in the deadly incidents.

        Federal authorities are now convinced the anthrax mailed in poison letters was made in the United States, and told ABCNEWS they are investigating a former anthrax researcher who allegedly threatened to use the potentially deadly bacteria.

        Unknown to all but a few government officials, the United States has been producing small quantities of weapons-grade anthrax for several years at two secret locations, one of them the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in the Utah desert.

        The FBI is now interviewing current and former scientists in Utah and at the second secret anthrax-producing facility, Battelle in Columbus, Ohio, a nonprofit corporation that does the work for the CIA and the military.

        An estimated 200 U.S. scientists dealt with the anthrax program over the last five years and federal authorities have told ABCNEWS they are now investigating the activities of a senior research scientist who FBI sources say was twice fired from Battelle and who allegedly made a threat to use anthrax in the days after Sept. 11.

        Agents Search American Scientist’s Home

        According to an FBI affidavit, agents searched the home of one former top Battelle scientist in late September after he allegedly made threats about using anthrax. Agents said they found suspicious chemicals but no anthrax, according to the sources.

        The scientist confirmed to ABCNEWS’ Brian Ross that agents had searched his home and taken his personal computer, but he denied any involvement in the attacks. He also insisted he had quit his post at Battelle, and was not fired.

        Authorities told ABCNEWS the program, designed to protect U.S. soldiers, grew out of the Gulf War. The idea was to replicate the kind of anthrax Iraq might make and one day use against U.S. soldiers.

        According to documents obtained by ABCNEWS, the U.S. scientists have been making a powdered aerosol form of anthrax, and also have the unique strain of the bacteria found in deadly letters sent to two U.S. senators.

        Scientists who worked on the project were vaccinated against anthrax and are immune to the bacteria.

        One of the few to be told of the classified program, the chairman of a House subcommittee on national security, said the research is very important.

        “The program’s been going on a number of years, thank God,” said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn. “I mean, the purpose of the program is for us to know how to deal with an attack.”

        But the Army won’t talk about the anthrax production, and has not shared what it learned with civilian authorities.

        The Army says all of the anthrax it has made since 1997 is accounted for. But what the FBI is really looking for is one of the 200 or so U.S. scientists who have been secretly making anthrax — looking for the one who may have used the bacteria to wreak havoc.

        ABCNEWS’ Brian Ross contributed to this report.

    • DXer said

      It has been known for over nearly 15 years that dozens of scientists at Battelle have been interviewed by the FBI already because it is one of only a few places where weaponized anthrax has been made. [WASHINGTON POST, 12/21/2001]

      http://www.historycommons.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=anthraxattacks&anthraxattacks_laboratories=anthraxattacks_battelle_memorial_institute

    • DXer said

      Battelle ran the facility at Dugway and scientists at both were interviewed and polygraphed.

      For someone with a political agenda not to get such a basic fact right is utterly inexcusable and I ask that Janet sit on her hands — except to work to get the memo referenced in the Dehart matter uploaded (and declassified if necessary but I am skeptical that is classified; political influence is wielded in much more straightforward fashion.)

      Anthrax Powder: State of the Art?
      http://www.usu.edu/science/unwrapped/files/uploads/1492_Science_anthrax.pdf

      “The FBI says it has interviewed and polygraphed scientists working at both Dug- way and Battelle.”

      The Army IG inspected Dugway in November 2001.

      FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY: In November 2001, the IG inspected the three Army facilities that stored anthrax: USAMRIID, Dugway and Aberdeen
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 13, 2014
      https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/for-official-use-only-in-november-2001-the-ig-inspected-the-three-army-facilities-that-stored-anthrax-usamriid-dugway-and-aberdeen/

      from DXer … infiltration of U.S. Biodefense? … virulent Ames anthrax at the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground in Utah?
      Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 20, 2010
      https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/infiltration-of-u-s-biodefense-virulent-ames-anthrax-at-the-u-s-army-dugway-proving-ground-in-utah/

    • DXer said

      Janet write for “New Eastern Outlook” which is based in Moscow.

      I don’t know about you but I don’t need writers for a Russian publication spinning politically-motivated misinformation about US biodefense efforts (like Barry has through Graeme). What this blog needs is contemporaneous documentary evidence so we can cut through the BS, nonsense, and lies. Politics should be allowed no role in true crime analysis.

      So by all means, let’s obtain and upload that memo referenced by Matt Dehart and kick this other crap to the curb. The blog has reached out to Matt Dehart’s mother Leann to ask for the date, to and from — so that it might be requested under FOIA. (I am skeptical it is classified but if it is there is a procedure that would permit it to be declassified.)

      (Matt offered his services to the Russians at the DC embassy so he should just be relieved there hasn’t been a superseding indictment.)

      Mind you, I love Russians. Hosted one at dinner last month. She spoke fluent English along with several other languages.

      I asked her to speak English with a Russian accent and she sounded just like Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle.

      I played her an episode from Rocky and Bullwinkle as Exhibit A as proof that she was a spy studying our methods of cow tipping up here.

      http://journal-neo.org/?lang=en&s=Janet+C.+Phelan

      http://journal-neo.org/about/

    • DXer said

      How many polygraphs were conducted overall? 200? (I don’t know but that’s a good guess).

      How many were conducted at Battelle? As many as 42? (I don’t know but that’s a good guess).

      With each individual at Battelle, credit card and telephone records were check for the purpose of establishing an alibi — in light of the 11 hour (?) drive.

      I’ll look for sourcing on these particulars.

      I interviewed the head of the anthrax vaccine project at Battelle in numerous follow-up emails. David Willman had flown to Scandinavia to interview an ex-wife. He fit the FBI’s model of a POI — someone like Hatfill, Berry, or Ivins — who had an unrelated past that might be used to good effect by a prosecutor in stripping the usual presumption of innocence. He initially did not want to talk to me but I explained that I could not very well defend him without knowing why he thought he was in the clear. The bottom-line is that each Battelle science was scrutinized based on phone, credit card and other documentary records that established his whereabouts. Large windows would be required to the extent one works on the assumption the processor was the same as the mailer. In terms of the timing of his involvement with the anthrax vaccine project, I saw nothing to support the notion that he had a motive.

  2. DXer said

    The report excerpted above, “Tactic: Tools, Methods and Training For Communities and Society To Better Prepare For A Crisis,” March 31, 2015, lists as a lesson learned:
    “The attacks provided lessons on communicating with different stakeholders during a terrorist attack, which can be considered by organisations planning and preparing for terrorism. The lessones learnt from the USPS perspective, include (Day 2003):
    – The importance of communication being open and honest. Provide information on what is known (i.e.,, provide the facts without over speculating), which help to establish credibility.”
    http://www.tacticproject.eu/sites/default/files/TACTIC_D4.1_T, RI_31.03.15_FINAL.pdf

    DXer compares statements made by US Attorney Jeffrey Taylor and FBI Assistant Director Joseph Persichini at their August 8, 2008 press conference to the documentary evidence so far produced (NOTE: much more is still being withheld)
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 10, 2011
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/dxer-compares-statements-made-by-us-attorney-jeffrey-taylor-and-fbi-assistant-director-joseph-persichini-at-their-august-8-2008-press-conference-to-the-documentary-evidence-so-far-produced-note/

    FOX NEWS interview with RICHARD LAMBERT … Former agent claims FBI concealing evidence in anthrax case
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 22, 2015
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/fox-news-interview-with-richard-lambert-former-agent-claims-fbi-concealing-evidence-in-anthrax-case/

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

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